Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

I've had a super busy week plus.  I've had a 10 year old for a week of "Nicholina Day Camp," Davan plus Lena over the week (they are a lot self sufficient, but I still do stuff with them), and our exchange student came on Saturday.  It hasn't left much reading time.  Oh, not to mention French is still happening, there was a test last week and homework is increased as we're reaching the end.  Whew.  However, I did manage to finish Symptoms of Being Human last week.  And then it's been sitting here in the living room waiting for me to have time to write a review.

I mostly liked Symptoms of Being Human.  It's a story of a person who is gender fluid.  Sometimes this person feels strongly like a she and other times strongly like a he and sometimes not so strongly.  Riley is this teen's name.  Riley has not chosen a pronoun because of the fluidity.  Riley is navigating a new school with a fresh start, but also the accompanying trying to find a place.  Riley's dad is a senator, so there is that to deal with.  Sometimes Riley has to put on a show for the public.  Additionally, Riley has a lot of anxiety with an occasional full blown panic attack.

What I liked:  I mostly liked Riley.  Sometimes I didn't.  I found Riley a little overly dramatic at times.  I liked the story of gender fluidity as a story with someone relatable.  I liked that we didn't know Riley's gender appearance at birth...at least for a while.  What I didn't like:  After about half way through the book it became really artificial to me that we didn't discover Riley's birth gender.  There were times that it would have definitely come up.  The media would not have referred to Riley as "your child" when asking the senator father questions.  While ultimately I felt not knowing made getting to know Riley very interesting in a good way, I also felt this artifice made the story feel unrealistic.  Additionally, while you don't absolutely have to be the same gender/race/ethnicity as the characters you write, I did feel like this was written by someone who wasn't fluid (and it was).  That was a small thing, but niggled at me.  One other thing that felt artificial, almost everyone had gender neutral names, particularly those who ended up not being the gender they first appeared to be.  So, these things made the book feel not as realistic as I'd have liked it to be.

Still, the read was overall good.  And I felt it was a good introduction to gender fluidity.  Also?  Having it sitting here in my living room lead to a good conversation starter with our new exchange student.  So, there's that.

No comments:

Post a Comment