Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human

by Jeff Garvin


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Starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist * YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers * ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List * 2017 Rainbow

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062382863
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/02/2016
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 174,626
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: HL760L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Before becoming a writer, Jeff Garvin acted in films and TV and was the front man of a nationally touring rock band. He is the author of Symptoms of Being Human, which was a Lambda Literary Award finalist and was also named one of the YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, was an ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, and was on the 2017 Rainbow Book List, and The Lightness of Hands. Jeff lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding beasts.

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Symptoms of Being Human 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. Although based on LBGTQ pressures, I believe this book pertains to anyone that has ever felt different, or weird, or dont feel like they fit in. I actually finished it in a day, simply unable to put it down. Must read- eye opening and inspiring book.
BoundlessBookaholic More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. I was so happy that I was part of the Sunday Street Team for this book, and was able to review an eARC from Edelweiss. This book was definitely 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion. This is a diverse novel, with the main character identifying as gender fluid. The story really sucks you in. A few things throughout the book were kind of predictable, at least to me, but I think I’m a pretty good guesser at what’s going to happen in a book. I loved seeing the world through Riley’s eyes, learning more about what being gender fluid really means. The writing was unique and absolutely beautiful. My stomach was full of butterflies, and a smile overtook my face often while reading. I even cried some. Besides my enormous love for Riley, I really liked Bec as well. Solo was okay at parts, especially towards the last half of the book. Riley’s parents annoyed me here and there throughout the book. They were too demanding; helicopter parents always hovering and bugging Riley. I thought the blog posts were really interesting and informative. The romance wasn’t very prominent in the book, but I loved it nevertheless. The pairing was absolutely adorable. I didn’t find any book boyfriends in this book, but it was definitely still worth the read. The parts where I cried, my heart felt like it was breaking. I don’t want to say what happened, because it would spoil the book, but wow, just wow. Some of my favorite lines: “‘Why does that make you think I’m from the Midwest?’ Solo shrugs. ‘Where else could you develop such contempt for traditional American values?'” and “Ten minutes later we’re speeding down the freeway, Solo’s hatchback shuddering like a porta-potty in a 5.0 magnitude earthquake.” and “‘As for wondering if it’s okay to be who you are–that’s not a symptom of mental illness. That’s a symptom of being a person.'” Final note: Jeff did an amazing job with his debut book, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who loves diverse books. I loved it so much that I had to buy a hardcover copy for my personal library! Check it out!
RoselynNoelle More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book, and lord let me tell you this. I have never related more to a book in my life, I am going into my late teens and I am a survivor of hate rape crimes... This book helped me navigate what I was going through and how I was feeling, I have connected with the characters in this book that I feel like they are old friends and their hurt I have experienced with them. That's how you can tell it's written so well. I loved. this book so much I am buying a personal copy to put into my shrine of books I love... I would definitely recommend this for teenagers going through a tough time and need that little it's gonna be okay...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As someone who is pansexual and still very young I know how this feels. IT IS NOT A PHASE. I love and support anybody who is going through this, and if your comkng out just know you have an LGTBQ++++ army that has your back. <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I originally had to read this book for school but after the first chapter I couldn't put it down. It is fasinating to read about the struggles of someone in the LGBTQ+ spectrum that also struggles with anxiety and bullying. The struggles Riley goes through are very relatable. Its a great read. 10/10 would read again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've never been so into a book in my life, it captured my attention from the very first page and I literally could not put it down. Plus it also helps that a lot of things in it I relate or have related to. I don't ever review anything but this book is too good not to. Please give it a chance if you're uncertain because you won't regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book really got you to think about not only yourself, but other people's struggles. When Riley would blog, s/he had a way of making you feel for him/her. Hands down, an amazing read.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feeling about this novel. I liked that Riley gave others a way to express themselves by setting up a blog so that they could write in and talk about their own feeling and concerns but Riley never took ownership of this blog. I liked that Riley went to therapy where finally Riley could be honest about life and the personal feelings that Riley kept bottled up inside. But, what really upset me about this novel was that Riley’s own parents didn’t know who Riley really was. Riley claims that the gender topic came into question at a young age and now, while in high school, Riley’s parents still don’t know? How can they not notice the changes in Riley? How can they not notice Riley’s lack of identity? The more that I read this novel, the more I begin to feel sorry for the individuals in Riley’s life. I didn’t feel that Riley respected them or that Riley was treating them fairly. I honestly don’t think Riley even realized that when Riley was not honest with them, she was hurting these individuals. When Riley was around Bee, I just about lost it. Where was this relationship supposed to go and who was to benefit? Riley talked privately about gender fluid, about being neutral, and Riley even dressed neutral yet some days that didn’t even help. Riley was bullied at school and even switched schools because lacking a gender identity drew the attention of others and made Riley a target. When was Riley really going to address the issue that he has been avoiding? When will Riley show others the real Riley? It will make his life less complicated and I believe the individuals in his life will understand him more.
DownrightDystopian More than 1 year ago
Let me start off this review by saying that I had never thought I'd actually like an audiobook, Yet, I saw that my library only had this book in audiobook format, so I gave it a go. Let's just say that I'm really glad that I did! Symptoms of Being Human follows a character named Riley, who doesn't identify as a boy or a girl. You see, Riley is a gender-fluid protagonist, which makes this novel so extremely unique. I've never read a book about gender fluidity, especially not a young adult novel. That's why I think that this book is so important. It educates the younger generation in such a lovely way. Riley was such an awesome character. I absolutely loved reading through Riley's thoughts and experiencing the world. I also connected to Riley because of the blog that Riley decided to run. On it, Riley would talk about feelings and life. Those were some of my favorite parts. Overall, I really liked how Symptoms of Being Human left me thinking afterwards. I know that the book was filled with characters that I will never forget. I know that I will for sure be picking up any other novels that Garvin writes in the future.
blamethebooks More than 1 year ago
Symptoms of Being Human is a story about Riley, a gender fluid teen trying to navigate a new high school and deal with the pressures of being the child of a Congressman. Riley isn't out yet, and starts a blog as an outlet, hoping it will help with the anxiety and stress that is a daily occurrence. The blog becomes a huge success, and Riley seems to be doing well, until an anonymous reader online threatens to expose Riley's secret to the world. I cried so many times while I was reading this book. I cried because, even though I haven't had to deal with the same struggles as Riley, I found so much in Riley's story that I could sympathize with. I cried because of the horrible cruelty that unfortunately still exists in our world. I cried because of the amazing kindness that also exists, and works every day to fight against the cruelty. Riley's story felt so real and relatable. I felt like the characters were a part of my life and I found myself caring so much about their story and what was happening to them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book really hit all of the points on the problems that LGBTQ people face. It was well written and a easy read. It also I think helps give the reader an inside glance into the life of a gender fluid teen and a better understanding of what these brave people go through. I would highly recommend reading it.
Lisa-LostInLiterature More than 1 year ago
Riley, as a character, is awesome. Straight-up awesome! The kind of character that you will IMMEDIATELY fall for and want nothing but the best in the coming chapters. I wasn't a huge fan or a lot of the other characters in the book, but Riley really stuck out for me. If I was standing by Riley through this story, let's just say tackle hugs would be in order. I was also pleasantly surprised by how well Riley's parents, despite their completely lack of knowledge, dealt with the concerning issues that presented themselves. (Sorry so vague, but that's just how I roll. #antispoilers) This is such an important book, and not just for teens. Even though I'm in my thirties, I honestly had never heard of Gender Fluid until reading a book about it last year. It's something that exists in our world, yet it isn't discussed as much as it should be. Too many times this type of issue is overlooked simply because of lack of knowledge, and I love that there are books like this available for teens as well as adults alike. Yay for diversity! (Thanks to Harper Audio & Balzer + Bray for the review copies!)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reallt excited to start reading this book. It isnt't something i would normally read but who says you can't give new thigs a try?
MarisaR More than 1 year ago
"There aren't words for what I feel, because all the words were made up by people who never felt like this." --Riley Cavanaugh SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN is the compelling story of gender fluid Riley Cavanaugh, who, at the advice of therapist Dr. Ann, starts an anonymous blog that quickly goes viral and threatens Riley's anonymity as well as Riley's conservative congressman father's reelection. Riley's realness makes for a MC you want to hang out with (and cheer for). Riley's circle of friends are compelling, the struggles real, and the heartbreak palpable. Riley is at equal turns smart and funny or raw and vulnerable. Riley's story of acceptance and practicing kindness resonates beyond the pages and makes for an important book that could ultimately change lives. I am thankful Jeff Garvin wrote it and I greatly look forward to what he does next.
Katie_breathofbooks More than 1 year ago
This book was the first that I ever read that has a genderfluid MC. It is an important and educational book, while also being a good story. Reading Riley's story was interesting. While I will probably never truly understand what being genderfluid is like, it helped provide a window of understanding. I felt like I was really able to get into Riley's head and feel what they felt. Riley didn't have it easy, especially worrying that being in the public through their dad being in Congress would be a problem. They also struggled with anxiety, which was tough too, probably. I felt like that part of the story was also done well. Bec and Solo were both good friends for Riley. Solo understood what it was like to not always fit in from when he used to be made fun of. He may have been friends with the meaner football players due to being on the football team, but that didn't mean that he was like them. He was really supportive of Riley, especially in some extra tough times for them. Bec was also a good friend and there was a cute potential relationship between her and Riley. She wasn't always there for Riley, especially at an important time. Yet, she apologized for that. If you like YA contemporary, read this book.