ARC Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Series: N/A, Standalone
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2016
Pages: 352
My Rating: 3 Stars

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

  I was given an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

"The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?"

  When I first read the synopsis of Symptoms of Being Human, I was immediately intrigued. I mean, it started out with with an amazing line which immediately captured my attention. And, when I finally got to reading the book, it was indeed the first thing I wondered - Is Riley a boy or a girl? It was really interesting for me as well because up until then, I didn't know a thing about being gender fluid because I've never heard of the term before.

  Unfortunately, after the initial fascination with a main character who is gender fluid has passed, I felt more and more disconnected to Riley and the story itself.
It was just lacking that thing that would draw me in, you know? But I just really wanted to know where the story was headed, and so I read on. However, I just really couldn't connect to it. I know that this is an amazing story with an eye-opening message, but I just didn't have the connection to the story that I wanted as a reader.

  Another thing is that while I knew that Riley is gender fluid and the author didn't want to reveal Riley's biological gender, I kept trying to guess it until 70% of the story, at which point I thought that it really didn't matter anymore and I just didn't care anymore. Then I finished the book and got to the author's note, and that's when things just started to click for me. I realized what this story is really about and how the author intended for things to be but at the end of the day I still don't feel connected to the book. Maybe it would have helped if I had encountered someone who is gender fluid before or something. I really don't know.

  Overall, I get the message that the author is trying to put across, and I really appreciated this novel for that message. However, I just wasn't able to connect to the story as much as I wanted to as a reader. I guess I'll be the black sheep here. I'm not saying that I hated this book, because I didn't hate it; I'm just saying that I didn't enjoy it quite as much as others did.

3 no-connection stars

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