Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human

Book - 2016
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"A gender-fluid teenager who struggles with identity creates a blog on the topic that goes viral, and faces ridicule at the hands of fellow students"-- Provided by publisher.
Some days Riley Cavanaugh identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. But Riley isn't exactly out yet: between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in über-conservative Orange County, the pressure is building. On the advice of a therapist Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it's really like to be a gender fluid teenager. But when the blog goes viral, Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created-- or stand up, come out, and risk everything.
Publisher: New York :, Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062382863
Call Number: F GARVIN J
Characteristics: 335 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Riley, the child of a Congressman, secretly blogs about being gender fluid.

Riley, the child of a Congressman, secretly blogs about being gender fluid.

Riley starts a gender identity blog that goes viral. Riley’s father, a politician is in a heated reelection campaign, and it has Riley wanting to keep the blog on the DL. Riley doesn’t want anyone at the new school to know about it, but starts to get some threats, some that might be close to home... Read More »

List - Teen Picks - Pride!
SFPL_Teen Jun 16, 2016


Riley, the child of a Congressman, sometimes identifies as a boy, other times as a girl. Interacting with peers is difficult and so Riley starts an anonymous blog to talk about what it's really like to be gender fluid. When someone discovers Riley's true identity, Riley must decide whether to wal... Read More »

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Sep 21, 2017

A 2018-2019 Missouri Gateway Readers Award preliminary nominee (grades 9-12).

Riley's life is complicated. Riley just started at a new school after the school year had already begun. Riley's father is running for reelection to the House of Representatives. Oh, and Riley is gender fluid, which means that on any given day Riley might feel more like a boy or a girl, and Riley is not out. On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts a blog, and the blog goes viral and gets more attention than Riley wanted.

I devoured this book, but there were a few things I didn't love about it. I felt like the author veered a little too close to afterschool special territory sometimes. I would advise against the audiobook, although I looked it up on Audible, and I appear to be in the minority.

Jun 03, 2017

What an excellent read! I learned so much. At first, I thought it was a little cheeky -- especially the whole I've got an anonymous blog and it has my deepest darkest secrets and it's suddenly popular and it gets revealed. That basic plot line was a struggle for me. HOWEVER, that said, I fell in love with the characters, Riley, Solo, Bev the whole lot of them. It was dynamic and interesting and honest. Also, I instantly liked it more when the book took a serious turn. It earned so much more respect from me when that happened and I was able to let the cheeky plot line issues go in light of that turn and that challenge presented to the characters and the storyline.

Aside from Magnus Chase and The Hammer of Thor, I have never read about a gender fluid character and, like I said, I learned a lot and feel more educated for having read this book.

Mar 28, 2017

I've read this before and I'm checking it out so I can read it again. As a genderfluid teen, this book is not only an enjoyable story but it's also relatable.

Cynthia_N Mar 23, 2017

Such a good read! I was pulled right into the story, I learned some things along the way, but I wasn't ready when it was finished! Quick read.

Aug 29, 2016

A really good book! I liked the story and it was really original with Riley's dad being so important in the government so Riley had to lay low. I would have preferred that the author had specified what pronouns Riley uses as I found it a bit realistic that no one called Riley any pronouns throughout the entire book. Also, Riley seemed to think there were only two sets of pronouns (either he or she) when in fact there are many more! If Riley didn't know what gender a person was Riley would refer to them as "he or she" when in fact "they" (!!) in a great alternative. Other than that a really great read!

LPL_WilliamO Jun 20, 2016

A well written, informative story about a gender fluid teenager struggling to find acceptance and self love. Riley's story is inspiring and an important one for those who can relate, and for those wanting to learn more about gender fluidity and the transgender community. Some strong language and violence, so best for a mature teen or adult audience - but definitely recommended.

Mar 25, 2016

Yet another disgusting example of a queer character ending up a victim of sexual assault. There was no point to that being in the story and with actual Real Life Queer individuals being continually assaulted in staggering numbers, it doesn't need to be anywhere near a young adult novel. It does nothing for the plot and is a sickening device used by a cis author who has obviously never lived the experience.

I wouldn't recommend that anyone read this book in a million years.

BostonPL_AnnaD Mar 03, 2016

This was a fantastic book! Riley, as a gender fluid teenager sometimes feels like a boy and at other times feels like a girl. This is more common than a lot of people think. Not only was this well written, but I found it a great book for those who may be gender fluid or other non-binary option, and for those who are seeking to know more about what it's like to be non-binary(not being a girl or a boy).
The author's note is especially nice at the end, explaining why the author decided to write the book.
This is a book I will highly recommend to anyone looking for non-binary characters in YA.

Feb 27, 2016

More books like this need to exist. Riley is a genderfluid main character, and as such, the biological assigned gender is never actually pointed out.

When I started reading this, I was asking the same question Riley presents in the beginning, "The first thing you're going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?"

Why does that disconnect exist? Why do we need to categorize? All these questions are explored in Symptoms of Being Human, and I think everyone can relate to that aspect of the book.

When I began reading, I wanted to know the answer, but as Jeff Garvin points out in the author's note at the end: "I got to know Riley not as a "boy" character or a "girl" character or as a "transgender" character, but as a human being--and I knew that this was the experience I wanted my readers to have, too."

I'll be honest: it was hard for me to separate myself from my need to categorize Riley, which made me so much more AWARE of the struggle trans, genderqueer, and genderfluid people face on a daily basis. At the end of the day, we're PEOPLE.

I think Garvin succeeded. I fell in love with Riley because of Riley being a downright powerful character.

Feb 23, 2016

Is Riley a boy or a girl? Well... we as readers never find out. That's what makes this book one I will think about for years.

Riley is gender fluid. There are days when the feminine side shows through and days being male is the thing to do. Riley starts an anonymous blog and it goes viral.

I wish more people would get over themselves and be ok with things. It's not like your going to catch it.


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Sep 21, 2017

booknrrd thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

BostonPL_AnnaD Mar 03, 2016

BostonPL_AnnaD thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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