Read by: Anna, a Teen Central Librarian
Summary: Riley Cavanaugh is attending a new school, has debilitating anxiety and a congressman father running for re-election, and hasn’t come out yet. To anyone. Riley is gender fluid, which means some days Riley identifies as a boy and some days Riley identifies as a girl. With all of this going on, how on earth is Riley supposed to blend in, make friends, come out, and survive high school?
Genre/sub-genre: LGBTQ contemporary fiction
Length: 335 pages
“People are complicated. And messy. Seems too convenient that we’d all fit inside some multiple-choice question.” – Riley Cavanaugh
This book is long overdue, because until now, stories about gender fluid people have been non-existent. Real and relatable, Symptoms of Being Human is a great look into what it means to be different in a way most people aren’t used to. No pronouns are used for Riley in the book, yet the author’s writing makes it feel very natural, not forced. Preferred pronouns (of which there are a lot of options) aren’t even mentioned by Riley’s therapist and transgender support group, which felt odd to me. Yet the lack of pronouns does serve as a reminder of just how binary society considers gender, and how much we gender everything without even thinking about it.
Riley’s story is very character driven. Riley’s parents are realistic, fully-developed and caring adults, just trying to do the best they can without knowing Riley’s secret. While there were a few minor friends I wanted to know more about, I loved Riley’s two friends from school. Solo and Bec were as well rounded, quirky, and engaging as Riley and they stood out as cool people I’d want to be friends with if I could.
This is a powerful and inspirational story that won’t let you go. I highly recommend this title for anyone who may identify as gender fluid and those who want to know what it means to be gender fluid. That said, I also highly recommend this title for those people who enjoy contemporary teen fiction and are just looking for a good read. Read on!
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*”Curl Up & Read” posts book reviews by Anna, one of the Teen Librarians at Teen Central, on the first Friday of every month.