Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Symptoms of Being Human

January - Books with white covers

When I saw the theme for this month I had to make my way to the library for both books because incidentally I have no books with white covers! I am so glad that I did! Because I found two that I think will be incredible. And the first one really was!

Riley is gender fluid, meaning that instead of waking up with the anatomy of a female and feeling like a girl, Riley has to take a moment to gauge where their gender dial is at the moment. Of course, this doesn't help much because Riley is not out as gender fluid and therefore cannot dress to their preference for the day. So this is the story of Riley switching schools, going through therapy, being the child of a conservative congressman, all while trying to navigate the very confusing path of gender fluidity. And this story is wonderful!

At the end of the book Jeff Garvin writes a note including statistics for trans and gender nonbinary people: how many are sexually harassed, how many commit suicide, how many have no access to helpful resources. This note is necessary because his character, Riley, has it relatively good, with help and support from numerous sources. Most in Riley's situation do not. And yet, even with having it good, Riley in no way has it easy.

Garvin does an incredible job of trying to nail down the symptoms and effects of a term that is just as fluid in how it effects individuals as it is for the day to day of those with it. There are many times when Riley described a panic attack that had me feeling in the moment of one of my own attacks, Garvin captures it so perfectly. This is an incredible debut for a man that has no personal experience with the things he describes in his book. It makes me excited to see what he tackles next!

So, this is when I say what point of view this books is written in and dissect how it effected my reading of the book. First person! I know, I know, for someone who hates first person so much I seem to find a lot of novels written in it! But this one, this one could not have been written in any other way! Because Riley is fluid, the reader cannot see Riley in any other way than how Riley sees Riley. Notice how earlier in my post I have to use they/them so that I do not assign a gender to Riley? Garvin avoids the pronoun issue by allowing Riley to tell the story. That coupled with the fact that only Riley can accurately portray everything they go through forces this book to be best done in first person. And it was wonderful that way! Maybe it helped that I could relate to Riley's punk attitude and made me love them from the first lines of the book!

I loved everything about this book! I was so excited to see it on the shelf and get to take a look into the world of a character set that is slowly finding its way into books these days. I love nontraditional characters. And I love that the number of novels are growing that can help those with less traditional problems. The best way for a teenager to feel safe is to show them others that feel the same way. Riley is an example of of trying to give more teenagers this safe space through understanding. It touches my heart to see the genre expanding in such a way! So, if you have more books along these lines, please send them my way! I would love to read more on subjects that I cannot understand first hand but want to understand for others. And if you haven't picked this one up but are willing to branch out of the norm, please do. This one was incredible! Let me know what you think!

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