Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Symptoms of Being Human (Review, SST & Giveaway!)

Hi there!

Title: The Symptoms of Being Human
Author:  Jeff Garvin
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray
Published Date:  2nd February 2016
Rating: 5 Stars

*Thank you to the publisher for the review copy*

Synopsis: 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.

Review: Wow, you guys. Just wow.

I wanted to read this book because I wanted to know more about gender fluidity. So far, there are only two people I have come across in my whole life who I know are gender fluid, and if I am honest I didn’t know too much about what the two words meant. I could turn this review into a debate of whether or not gender fluidity is “real” or “right.” But right now I just want to review the book, so let’s discuss this one regardless of where you stand on those viewpoints. Because regardless of where you stand on those viewpoints, I still think you should read this one.

Riley is a character who sometimes feels more like a  boy, and other times feels more like a girl. Riley’s father is a political figure and sometimes that can be a little stressful on the family because they have to keep up appearances all the time. But what I found particularly clever about Riley is that we never actually get to know what their actual gender is. Which, I think, is a good thing seeing as the aim of this book is to try and get the reader to understand that you don’t have to settle for one.

I was also pretty eager to try this book because of the fact that Riley has a blog that blows up and becomes more famous than they imagined. Being a blogger myself as well, I could relate to that element of things. And Riley’s blog posts, which we do get to see, were pretty interesting. They gave us a lot of insight into their character.

The thing that especially made this book for me were the characters. We get to know Riley so well, especially as they struggle from anxiety and are going through this pretty heavy emotional period of time in this novel. But the secondary characters were fleshed out incredibly well too. There was Solo who was this big bundle of fun and protectiveness and Bec who was a tough but mysterious kind of girl. I liked those two especially and how good for Riley they were, although maybe not all the time. Even though some people can be good, we all make mistakes.

Another important thing was how family had such a role in this one. Maybe not the biggest family ever since Riley is an only child, but a family all the same. Riley especially doesn’t want to ruin their father’s campaign, and wants to keep their mother happy, so you can understand the dilemma involving coming out as gender fluid. Riley’s parents are just trying to understand Riley most of the time, and you can see some of the family issues coming through, but some of the family love as well.

Towards the end I couldn’t stop read. I won’t give you any spoilers as to what happens, but by the end of the book I was moved and wanting to cry and smile at the same time. Make of that what you will!

Personally, I am (despite my previous claim) going to say that I didn’t agree with everything in this book. Despite that, everyone should still read it! Because whether you agree or not isn’t the point – this book can still teach you a little something about human decency and respect nonetheless.

About the Author:
Before becoming a novelist, Jeff Garvin acted on TV and toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman University and lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding beasts.

Giveaway! Enter to win a signed bookplate and bookmark from Jeff Garvin! Open internationally.

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Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: Do you respect other people despite having contradicting values or beliefs than their own? Have you ever met someone gender fluid?

Olivia-Savannah x

31 comments:

  1. I respect their decision totally! I haven't met anyone gender fluid as of yet. I already had this book on my TBR, great to hear you liked it, even if you didn't agree with it all..I really want to read it now :)

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    1. I hope you get to read it soon, because I think you will really enjoy it as well.

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  2. sounds really interesting - I always love it when authors try to do something different, or use a bold premise :)

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    1. Uniqueness is something I crave in books!

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    2. Nothing wrong with that! ;)

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  3. [ Smiles ] Wow! Epic book!

    I like the blogging part (Bloggers would love this book)!

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    1. It's always so great to pick up on a quality you can relate to in a book ;)

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  4. Hi, Olivia - As always, very nice review! Sounds like the author was tackling a very sensitive issue. Glad you enjoyed it. :)
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

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    1. He was! And sometimes it can be so hard to know how to handle an issue like this, but Garvin did it well.

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  5. I, too, am not familiar with gender fluidity, so I think this book is a great tool to educate people. Agree or not, reading this book will still benefit those who are not in the know.

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    1. Yes, I think everyone should have a chance with this book just to learn more about the situation.

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  6. This book sounds amazing! I think gender fluidity is such an important topic (and one I 100% support!), so I'm glad more books about it are being published. I love books about blogging too, so I hope to get to this soon!

    Great review, Olivia! Thanks for sharing ☺
    Denise | The Bibliolater

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    1. I think you should read this one then, because you're just going to love it.

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  7. Eek! I'm so excited for this! I am waiting on my copy to arrive (hopefully soon!) so I can dive in. Thanks for a wonderful review!

    Jamie @ Books and Ladders

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    1. The anticipation! D: Hope you devour it when you get it!

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  8. Sounds like it tackles this issue very well

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  9. I am adding this to my must-have list!

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  10. I hadn't heard of this one, but it sounds unique. I like that the characters are so well done. Your review made me very curious about how the story ends. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I didn't want to give anything away about the ending; you should read it yourself and find out :D

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  11. Hmm, definitely an interesting subject matter.

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  12. It sounds like an unique book. I think we should respect other people no matter their beliefs, religion, gender, sexuality, race and all that. I am an atheist yet I respect other people's religion and I don't try to convince them of anything.

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    1. No matter what, I agree with you. All people deserve respect, especially as that is what most people want in return as well!

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  13. I have a friend who is gender fluid and still it's not something I know much about so this book definitely interests me, even if I'll come away not agreeing completely. Thanks for sharing your great and informative review :)
    Enchanted by YA

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    1. It's good that you are trying to look more into it for their benefit!

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  14. Sounds interesting but not my cup of tea. Nice review!

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    1. I understand that it isn't for you! Thanks for stopping by nonetheless ;)

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  15. Yay! I absolutely LOVED this book and I'm so happy that you gave it 5 stars! Thanks so much for participating in SST :)

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    1. I am glad you could love it so much as well! My pleasure, as always :D

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