I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Narrator: Tom Phelan
Length: 7 Hours 47 Minutes
Published by HarperCollins on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Bullying, LGBT
Format: Audiobook, ARC, eARC
Source: Library, Publisher
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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.
Why Did I Listen To Symptoms Of Being Human by Jeff Garvin?
Symptoms Of Being Human by Jeff Garvin certainly stands out among a sea of cis-het young adult novels. The fact that this book was something different really appealed to me. Plus, the audiobook promised to be a quick listen. I was looking forward to the audio as means of a palette cleanser between fantasy books. Also? I really do need to get better at reading books that are more diverse. In addition, it seemed to me like reviews for Symptoms Of Being Human were relatively good on average.
What’s The Story Here?
Jeff Garvin’s Symptoms Of Being Human is about a main character named Riley. Riley is genderfluid and we never really find out what sex Riley was born into. So, the story is about how Riley goes from private school to public school in hopes that the public school will be more accepting. Riley is not out about being genderfluid, however, Riley is androgynous. Anyways, Riley starts a blog on the advice of Riley’s therapist. The blog ends up going viral. Mostly, that’s not a bad thing, only someone may know Riley’s identity and threatens to out Riley at school and to Riley’s parents. FYI, it is a big deal because Riley’s dad is conservative congressman. Alas, Riley does make some pretty good new friends at their new school and also finding a support group as well.
What Did I Think Of Symptoms Of Being Human?
Overall, I enjoyed Symptoms Of Being Human by Jeff Garvin a lot. I’ll admit to still being a little slow on the uptake when it comes to different genders and sexualities. Prior to reading this, I had never read a book about a person who is gender fluid. I did not even really know or understand what it means to be gender fluid. Now, I have a slightly better understanding and increased empathy. I was absolutely won over by Riley and glad to see Riley both triumph and struggle, but mostly triumph. This book is incredibly well written and easy to follow. I think that it’s worth reading – especially for teenagers as books increase acceptance and empathy.
How’s The Narration?
The audiobook of Symptoms Of Being Human is narrated by Tom Phelan (also it is available via Hoopla if you are blessed to be a patron of a library that provides Hoopla as a service). It is 7 hours and 47 minutes long if you listen at regular speed. I am not sure how I feel about the choice of having a man narrate Symptoms Of Being Human, but then, I guess I don’t actually know what a gender fluid person sounds like. So, the narration is very well produced. The audio is clean and free of dead spaces. Phelan’s elocution is on point, and well, he’s easy to listen to. I would totally recommend the audiobook as well as the actual physical book. This is just plain a riveting story.
Other reviews of Symptoms Of Being Human by Jeff Garvin:
- Lambda Literary – “a gorgeous debut and an engaging story about a teenage outsider“
- Gone With The Words – “relatable and funny and sad and really, really great“
- Pinkindle – “very hopeful and informative“