Kat (Lost in Neverland)'s Reviews > Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
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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 about Tumblr, but being someone who is on it, it made me wince any time it was mentioned or as Riley become 'Bloglr famous' in a matter of days (an impossible feat, based on what they posted). It made the majority of the story really cheesy, but I guess it's an accurate representation of how a lot of LGBT individuals come out, by having a profile on a social media where they can feel safe. Seeing it in a book format is just a bit uncomfortable, to say the least.

I feel like Riley was very lucky in that they were born with an extremely gender-neutral name. Another character, who later came out as transgender, also had a very gender-neutral name; it only bothered me a little, as most transgender/genderqueer people are not lucky enough to be born with a gender-neutral name.

Maybe it was just me, but Riley seemed to overreact about a lot of things. They nearly freak out the first time they walk into school and a girl refers to them as 'it', or people asking 'is that a boy or a girl?'
As someone who dresses fairly androgynously sometimes, things like that don't bother me in the slightest. Hell, I even think it's funny. Riley thought it was the end of the world, but I don't think most genderfluid/genderqueer people think that as an issue. If you're transgender, yes, because being perceived as a specific gender is important to them.
As a genderfluid person, being perceived as a specific gender is not important to me. Sometimes I'll dress outlandishly feminine, and other days I'll be extremely masculine. Other days I'll be somewhere in the middle, in which my goal is for people to wonder about my gender. It's part of who I am and when people are confused, it's not a big deal. But that may just be me. I can't make that assumption for other genderfluid people.

Riley is also quite young (16), so maybe they haven't developed that 'fuck it' attitude.

Overall it's a short, quick read, and I'm very happy more books like this are starting to become mainstream. When I was 14/15, just starting to read YA books, I never had books like this, so I'm glad the younger readers will have these more diverse books to grow up with and stumble across, maybe discovering things about their own identity earlier on.

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Reading Progress

August 28, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
August 28, 2015 – Shelved
May 17, 2016 – Started Reading
May 31, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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Kelly (and the Book Boar) I can't tell you how much I appreciate this review. Being an old geezer I fully admit I am an idiot when it comes to new terminology. All I know is in my day I wanted to make much of the sex with Prince and David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and Steven Tyler and I didn't care if they were gay or androgynous or effeminate or what. They were hot and everyone (guys and girls alike) had minor obsessions with their coolness. As a mom, it seems like labels are becoming so important that sometimes the individual human and all of what makes them special gets lost in the mix : (

Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell Great review, Kat! Thanks for sharing that bit about yourself. :) I think it's really cool that all these LGBT+ books are coming out for young readers. I didn't have any of that when I was young, and learning all this new terminology now definitely caused some awkward social stumbles.

The Bloglr thing does sound cringey ahaha. Sometimes I wonder if people writing about these "social media famous" people actually follow famous people on social media... XD

Kat (Lost in Neverland) @Kelly Thank you! And ahh, very true, haha, I think some people (like Prince and Bowie) just have that natural sex appeal that everyone adores, no matter their sexuality.
I agree a bit about the labels, and I think this book emphasized how, despite any kinds of labels, we're all just human underneath. I do think labels help people figure out who they are and get that 'Oh, it all makes sense now!!' feeling when finally finding that label that describes them, and I think that's really beautiful. :)

@Nenia Thank you, Nenia! I love how many LGBT+ books there are now. I used to struggle to find one book in a bookstore about an lgbt character, but now it's every other book I pick up, and that's awesome. It's normalizing LGBT and making them as human as everyone else.

And yeah, it was very cringe-worthy. Pretty unrealistic and cliche, either way, but I guess it's one of the modern day 'journal entry' book format, which is cool too.

PJforaDay Yay another gender fluid pal! I'm not out so I thought that was why Riley's struggles felt a little too formulaic and written for the cis community...like there wasn't even one joke. Also that whole part where they* preached about automatically noticing someone gender felt incredibly off to me since tbh in my head gender is this ambiguous thing that I honestly only notice if someone requests a certain pronoun.

just gonna use gender neutral pronouns*

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