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Symptoms of Being Human

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  15,688 ratings  ·  2,370 reviews
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-conse
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by Balzer + Bray
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Kaibedai It's even more similar to Er ist wieder da... which is a 2012 German novel in which Hitler appears -- poof! -- in modern day Germany.

It's even more similar to Er ist wieder da... which is a 2012 German novel in which Hitler appears -- poof! -- in modern day Germany.

Elena This is definitely a very young adult YA novel, meant to resonate most strongly with teens. But as with any YA, an adult could certainly read and enjo…moreThis is definitely a very young adult YA novel, meant to resonate most strongly with teens. But as with any YA, an adult could certainly read and enjoy it. I'd recommend it to anyone who'd like to familiarize themselves with the concept of gender fluidity, regardless of age. But the character and plot definitely speak primarily to teens.(less)

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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  15,688 ratings  ·  2,370 reviews

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

I'm glad this book exists. I really am. Unlike What We Left Behind, which completely misrepresents gender fluidity, Symptoms of Being Human provides plenty of information about being gender fluid, reminds us that there are many ways to be gender fluid, and will probably make gender fluid teens feel less alone.

BUT. I am a real believer in the power of fiction. In my life, I have taken more from powerful stori
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
(view spoiler) ...more
Dec 02, 2015 rated it liked it

Symptoms of Being Human is an illuminating novel on gender fluidity and LGBTQA in general for that matter. It chronicles a particularly poignant point in the life of our main character, Riley Cavanaugh, who is gender-fluid.

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

Riley's gender has always been a subject of speculation by everyone he/she meets. This kind of attention causes significant distress to Riley, as he/she just wants to be left alone to
Rachel Reads Ravenously

3.5 stars

Gender fluid: a gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities. Their gender can also vary at random or vary in response to different circumstances. -Source: gender wiki

This is an incredibly interesting book and I learned a lot of new terms and subjects, as well as it changed the way I think about other people. This is the st
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

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

And that’s one thing you’ll never find out, so it’s better to go in knowing it. Riley Cavanaugh’s story is one you probably haven’t read before – that of a gender fluid teenager. As the book says regarding gender . . .

“Honestly, there’s so much information out there, and a lot of it contradicts itself. The pronouns and the terminology, it’s v
Laurie Flynn
Sometimes, after turning page after page of a truly great book, you think, with total conviction: this book could change someone’s life. That’s how I felt more than once while reading SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN. But not only that—I also had another thought. This book could save someone’s life.

The protagonist in SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN, Riley Cavanaugh, is gender fluid and identifies as both a boy and a girl, depending on the day. Some mornings, Riley wakes up and feels more girl; others, Riley’s c
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

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

This was an interesting book about a gender fluid teen and her struggles to cope with her gender issues.

Riley was an interesting character, and I felt like we got a feel for her/him even though we never found out what gender he/she was. (I’m just going to use feminine pronouns
Kurt Dinan
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The world is a better place because this book exists. It will make readers more compassionate and empathetic. I can't think of a stronger endorsement than that. ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Larry H
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was bullied quite a lot in high school because my lack of athleticism and my passion for music and drama made me an easy target. While there was a lot in high school I enjoyed, it was a tremendously stressful and traumatizing time in so many ways, and every day I wanted to escape the notice of my tormentors.

But as painful as that was, it doesn't hold a candle to the treatment of Riley Cavanaugh in Jeff Garvin's absolutely amazing Symptoms of Being Human .

"The first thing you're going to wan
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, trans, young-adult
Read “Mask of Shadows” instead. I really did not like this book. Authors who aren't trans (an umbrella term that encompasses genderfluid) and have nothing to do with our community need to stop writing about things they know nothing about. Let's break it down.

1) The first sign that this was going to be bad came early - page 6 - when Riley gets called "it" at school and then goes to go hide in the BATHROOM. Nobody who's trans or nonbinary is ever, ever going to choose the bathroom as a place to b
Kaje Harper
I really enjoyed this story - there are not many books out there with genderfluid main characters, and finding one that is also a great story is delightful.

Riley is the teen child of a congressman, and they narrate this story of their life with a persuasive voice. (In fact the one criticism here would be that Riley is too talented with words to be a teenager, but in the pleasure of the story and the importance of the message, I was willing to see them as gifted, and eloquent, without damaging th
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-borrowed
3.5 stars round up to 4.

I had to consider my review for the last couple of days. A rarity for me as I often write reviews right away as soon as I close the book. Symptoms of Being Human was certainly a page turner and I read it in about 2 hours. This is the first YA read that I have selected that deals with the subject of a teenager being gender fluid. As I peruse the reviews of other Goodreads, many of the reviewers are much more knowledgeable about this subject. Aside from the fact that Rile
This book is so. Freaking. Good. More to come.
Merphy Napier
I miss this book so much. I picked it up on a whim without having ever heard of it before and ever sense I put it down I've just wanted more! I doubt there's much that could be done with a sequel but I really wish there was one! I miss these characters and this story. I'll need to be rereading it soon - I highly recommend!! ...more
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Look for a more coherent review soon. Just know that you NEED this one.
Feb 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am nonbinary, so when I found a book with a nonbinary protagonist, I was ecstatic. Riley wasn't nonbinary in a world without gender, or in a world where gender means something different, or has different parameters. Riley is genderfluid in our world. I was so excited to read this book, to find a character I might finally be able to relate to.

I was completely disgusted and disappointed with the outcome.

First, as a book itself, it's rather weak. The plot barely exists, and the characters are hit
Dec 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
As an actual trans person, I cannot emphasize enough how much I hated this book. It's terrible. In choosing not to reveal Riley's gender assigned at birth (a choice I find unrealistic as well as insensitive), Garvin has written a book that barely reflects the trans experience whatsoever. It represents the trans experience in a way that's simultaneously vague and inaccurate.

The writing isn't great, either; even for a YA book, it lacks complexity. It's painfully predictable, and the characterizati
Rahul Kanakia
Thought this was book was really good! Funny, sharp, and readable. And the form fits the content. Garvin does a great job of hiding the protagonist's assigned-at-birth gender in a way that doesn't feel forced: that mechanism by itself does a lot to hold up a mirror to the reader's own preconceptions. Book was filled with warmth and understanding, I blew through it a morning.

(I got an advanced reader copy of this book through an ARC tour for debut authors, but the copy carried no expectation or
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. Becau
♫✯Em loves Hollenstein✯♫❤the summertime and butterflies all belong to your creation❤
So ridiculously real and relateable. As a gender-fluid person, i approve this message.
(book #5 in my pride month challenge)

I can't blame you for trying to categorize me. It's human instinct.

4,5 stars!

This was insanely good and informative.

Despite me wanting to stay away from YA contemporaries for a bit, I wanted to read a book with a genderfluid character for research and I wanted it to be in our world because honestly I had Questions. So when someone recommended it to me I was ready to be a bit bored with the actual story but I decided I would go through with it eve
Ashley Blake
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqiap
Gah, YOU GUYS. THIS BOOK. I absolutely adored Riley's story. It's not an easy one, but it's real and messy and so, so needed. Riley is a gender fluid teen searching for bravery, for a place, for a cause. Riley navigates bullying and anxiety with such authenticity, I found myself breathless for half of this novel. Garvin crafts a story that speaks to the emotionally and physically violent treatment genderqueer and trans persons deal with on a daily basis. He calls attention to this with both a se ...more
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book bothered me so much. (Although there was plenty of fascinating information about gender dysphoria and so on.) The plot, you see, doesn't seem to be in touch with reality. It went like this: "Riley, you're so great with words that the one anonymous blog post you wrote has gotten you dozens of followers already even though your blog has no publicity."

"Riley, the owners of an enormously famous website somehow found your 'blog' after two or three posts and it was such an EARTH-SHATTERINGL
Kat (Lost in Neverland)

As someone who identifies as genderfluid, I'm glad to read a book like this. I'm glad there's a YA book about this identity and that the reader is never actually told what gender Riley was born as. Riley is Riley, a human being, sometimes dressing 'like a guy' and sometimes dressing 'like a girl' but mostly somewhere in between.

However, I did have some issues.

The parody of Tumblr in the form of 'Bloglr' was cringe-worthy, and I honestly didn't want to read further because of it. I don't care ab
Nov 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018
1.5/5 Stars.

I don’t even know where to begin with this one.

First of all, just because this book deals with an important issue doesn’t make it good.

I don’t understand how Riley’s “Uber conservative” parents push absolutely no gender roles on them. They don’t use pronouns for them. They don’t say “wouldn’t you rather wear a dress/pants?” When I cut my hair kind of short like Riley’s my conservative parents wouldn’t shut up about how I looked like a boy.

The fact that others also don’t push gende
Dec 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So if I had to guess, I would say that this author is cis. The only people who write stories where the plot is the (queer) main character having no conflict but angsting about their queerness are authors who aren’t queer. (Or aren’t the same kind of queer as their characters. Write what you know y’all, and don’t borrow those experiences for personal gain)

It’s a book by cis people for cis people.

I’m annoyed by the scene when Riley goes to the Q and they don’t introduce themselves with names and
Jen Malone
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My punk band name: Book Broke Me and Put Me BackTogether Again.
Jaime Arkin
I have to admit that I was both incredibly intrigued and a bit unsure of how I would feel about this book when I submitted my request to be a part of the blog tour for it. I read the summary and was immediately drawn to the premise of a gender-fluid teen struggling with knowing who they are but not being able to express it and still feel safe and secure in their life, not only at school, but at home too.

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

I’m ju
Istyria book blog ~ A World of enchanted books

Sometimes I have this gut instinct about a book that tells me I have to read it because something inside me is screaming at me that it'll be amazing. Symptoms of Being Human is one of those books and when I finally listened to that voice inside my head, it ended up being my first 5-star read in more than a month.

Symptoms of Being Human is about Riley Cavanaugh. Riley is many things. Punk Rock, snarky, funny, rebellious, and gender-fluid. Some days Ri
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Symptoms of fistula 1 2 Jul 02, 2021 08:26PM  
Crazy for Young A...: Symptoms of Being Human, by Jeff Garvin → Start Date: March 4, 2016 46 78 Feb 23, 2021 08:55PM  
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Jeff Garvin is an author, musician, and actor. His debut novel, Symptoms of Being Human, is an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, a Goodreads Choice Semifinalist, and garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly. Before becoming a novelist, Jeff acted on TV and toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman Un ...more

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19 likes · 4 comments
“We’re all taught from a young age that there are only two choices: pink or blue, Bratz or Power Rangers, cheerleading or football. We see gender in two dimensions because that’s what society has taught us from birth. But, are you ready for a shocking revelation?
“The world isn't binary. Everything isn't black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it's not a switch, it's a dial. And it's not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission or approval" -Riley” 56 likes
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