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Symptoms of Being Human
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Symptoms of Being Human
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Starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist * YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers * ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List * 2017 Rainbow A sharply honest and moving debut perfect...
Starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist * YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers * ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List * 2017 Rainbow A sharply honest and moving debut perfect...
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Description-

  • Starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist * YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers * ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List * 2017 Rainbow

    A sharply honest and moving debut perfect for fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Ask the Passengers.

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

    From debut author Jeff Garvin comes a powerful and uplifting portrait of a modern teen struggling with high school, relationships, and what it means to be a person.

About the Author-

  • Before becoming a writer, Jeff Garvin acted in films and TV and was the front man of a nationally touring rock band. He is the author of Symptoms of Being Human, which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist and was also named one of the YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, was an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, and was on the 2017 Rainbow Book List, and The Lightness of Hands. Jeff lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding beasts.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 16, 2015
    It’s the first day at a new high school, and Riley is facing typical problems, such as deciding what to wear and where to sit at lunch, and a few less common ones, such as avoiding being heckled by classmates who object to Riley’s gender-nonconforming appearance. Gender-fluid Riley wakes up each morning in a different place on the male-female continuum. To be safe, Riley strives for neutrality, but that doesn’t necessarily feel right. As junior year starts, Riley makes an unlikely friend, develops a crush, and—encouraged by a therapist acquired after years of anxiety and secrecy led to a suicide attempt—starts a blog about being gender-fluid. Despite bullying that escalates into full-on assault, Riley gains the courage to come out with help from friends, a love interest, and a support group. Readers never learn Riley’s birth-assigned gender, but there’s no question that Riley is a smart, funny, sharp-eyed force. Debut author Garvin clearly wants to teach his readers about gender and gender fluidity, but the knowledge he imparts buoys this rewarding story, never weighing it down. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rachel Ekstrom, Irene Goodman Agency.

  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2015
    Riley Cavanaugh, whose father is a prominent politician in a conservative Southern California county, navigates being gender fluid and experiencing panic attacks. For Riley, being gender fluid means that "some days I wake up feeling more 'boy' and some days I wake up feeling more 'girl.' And some days, I wake up feeling somewhere in between." When Riley starts attending public school, in part to escape bullying and in part to boost Sen. Cavanaugh's education-reformer image, Riley's plan is to dress androgynously and try to blend in. But Riley's arrival attracts attention both negative--a popular girl calls Riley "it"--and positive--two misfit students offer friendship and maybe more. On the advice of Dr. Ann, the therapist Riley started seeing after a suicide attempt, Riley starts a personal blog. After just a couple of posts, Riley gains a massive following, and Andie Gingham, a trans girl in crisis, reaches out to Riley for advice. Both the blog's instant popularity and the media emphasis on Riley's role in Andie's story ring false, and the book's insistence that transgender and gender-fluid teens should all come out seems less than carefully reasoned. Riley's family relationships and growing friendships, however, are vibrantly imagined, and the panic attacks are well-illustrated. Overall, a welcome mirror for gender-fluid teens and a helpful introduction for others. (Fiction. 12-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    December 1, 2015

    Gr 9 Up-After a more than unpleasant experience at a Catholic high school, Riley Cavanaugh, whose father is a conservative congressman, is looking for a fresh start at Park Hills High. However, when a new classmate spots Riley and asks, "Is that a girl, or a guy?" Riley quickly gets pegged as an "it." Though the protagonist wakes up some mornings feeling more like a girl and other mornings feeling more like a boy and would prefer to dress in a manner that reflects this, Riley must present as androgynously as possible in order to avoid negative attention. Riley is genderfluid but must keep it a secret in order to keep up appearances for their father's political campaign. Taking the suggestion of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog about what it's like to be genderfluid. The blog quickly accumulates followers. But when a reader discovers Riley's identity and starts to make threats, Riley must decide if they are ready to come out as the blog's author. Garvin is skilled at truly encapsulating the feeling of being completely without allies in high school. The isolation is palpable in every scene. Garvin's strengths also lie in his ability not to reveal the assigned gender of Riley without turning it into some sort of trick or novelty. Riley is not just genderfluid: Riley is witty, has a charming sense of humor, is a skilled writer, and is totally capable of getting the girl. Very few YA titles have featured protagonists like Riley, who don't fit into the black and white of the gender binary. VERDICT Recommended for any library that serves a teen population.-Ingrid Abrams, Town School Library, NY

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Riley is a smart, funny, sharp-eyed force"
  • Booklist (starred review) "One of the first YA books to deal with the complex issue of gender fluidity...Riley's emotional life and personal growth shed welcome light on a hitherto obscure subject."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Vibrantly imagined...a welcome mirror for gender-fluid teens."
  • Lissa Price, international bestselling author of Starters "With a main character who truly deserves to be called unique, combined with heartbreak and triumphs that are universal, this unforgettable book made me laugh, and also cry: Garvin's powerful new voice rocks!"
  • Dahlia Adler, author of Under the Lights and Just Visiting "Riley Cavanaugh is a sharp, funny, powerful voice for those who haven't quite found theirs yet. Both highly entertaining and highly necessary, Symptoms is the kind of book that makes you a better human for having read it. I loved it."
  • Renee Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn "A moving portrayal of what it means to be different, yet the same, all at once. Jeff Garvin has written a beautifully thoughtful book."
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books "An important introduction for readers who know little about gender fluidity and a welcome nod to those who may be experiencing similar feelings."

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