cover image Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human

Jeff Garvin. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-238286-3

It’s the first day at a new high school, and Riley is facing typical problems, such as deciding what to wear and where to sit at lunch, and a few less common ones, such as avoiding being heckled by classmates who object to Riley’s gender-nonconforming appearance. Gender-fluid Riley wakes up each morning in a different place on the male-female continuum. To be safe, Riley strives for neutrality, but that doesn’t necessarily feel right. As junior year starts, Riley makes an unlikely friend, develops a crush, and—encouraged by a therapist acquired after years of anxiety and secrecy led to a suicide attempt—starts a blog about being gender-fluid. Despite bullying that escalates into full-on assault, Riley gains the courage to come out with help from friends, a love interest, and a support group. Readers never learn Riley’s birth-assigned gender, but there’s no question that Riley is a smart, funny, sharp-eyed force. Debut author Garvin clearly wants to teach his readers about gender and gender fluidity, but the knowledge he imparts buoys this rewarding story, never weighing it down. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: Rachel Ekstrom, Irene Goodman Agency. (Feb.) [/em]