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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2016 Jeff Garvin (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

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Read this, right now!!

While I was growing up—at least where I was growing up—there weren’t any discussions about gender. The whole notion of anything besides the binary—in fact, any discussion about the term binary itself—was simply nonexistent. So I grew up with that vague notion that something was amiss for me; that I was different, too different to put into words.

I knew that I never wanted to be defined as a woman. That the idea of having that label was annoying, to say the least. I didn’t want to be identified as a man, either; I simply didn’t want to be identified, period. I wanted to be human, nothing else. To be judged solely for my character and actions, not by gender. Being a feminist and, therefore, pro equality, helped with some understanding but it still didn’t feel enough.

Then, recently, I read about nonbinary and genderfluid people and a new world opened to me. I finally found the definition I’d always tried to express; why having to check the F or M in any form made me cringe so much. Why having to go to events about Women’s day at work made me want to scream. I am nonbinary. I despise gender roles, I hate being dismissed by what may be between my legs. I don’t care about the gender binary and I dream of a world where any person will have the freedom to define themselves as female or male as they wish or not to define themselves at all if they prefer. Where there won’t be any boxes to check or, at least, an N/A option.

And then a friend read Symptoms of Being Human and raved about it on Facebook. I was immediately interested, craving the chance to have representation—done right—in a novel. And oh, how wonderful the experience was!

This is a magnificent book. It is important, it is well written, it is such a powerful testimony it seems like nonfiction. And yet the writing is so lyrical, so poetic, I couldn’t stop noting quotes. Sharing quotes. Thinking about quotes.

Riley’s story is a simple one, one that is happening right now to so many people out there. And that’s the brilliancy of it; it speaks to hundreds of thousands of people who so far may be hiding, may be lost, may not even have figured out what is going on with them. Not just young people either…remember what I said at the beginning, and I’m almost 40 years old. It’s never too late to understand and to be understood.

I know we are evolving fast. Society is at least learning that it can’t just dismiss and pretend what’s not the norm doesn’t exist anymore. But there’s still so much to do, so much to learn, so much to free. Symptoms of Being Human is a huge help in that. May this book become such a tremendous bestseller that no one will be able to say they never heard about genderfluid or nonbinary anymore. Let’s spread the word about this novel and make the world a safer place to all of us!

Thank you so much, Jeff Garvin, for writing what is, no doubt, one of the best books I’ve ever have the honor of reading. And also kudos to Tom Phelan for a tremendous narration.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Interesting and thought provoking

This audio was well read and well written. I appreciated being exposed to something I knew nothing about. I also enjoyed that all of the answers were not apparent. A good listen for anyone who is interested in how different ALL of us are.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful and Moving - a Must Read!

Any additional comments?

This book is gorgeous. It gives a very personal inside look into gender fluidity and the challenges it imposes on teenagers who are already just trying to find their identity in a sea of hormones and high school struggles. Riley is a character you can't help but love and cheer for every step of the way, their relationships are confused and full of depth, and the reader can't help but better understand different ways of looking at gender upon reading this book. It's both a beautiful work of fiction and a moving piece of social activism. I cannot recommend it enough!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Made me want to stand up and fight

A gut wrenching, relatable portrayal of a gender fluid teens fight for survival. I have a gender fluid family member and this book brought me to tears and close to sobbing multiple times. it also reminded me of the life saving power of having at least one person who has your back. Riley's story made me determined to speak up loudly for the protection and safety of all those that do not fit neatly into the mythical gender binary.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Very informative re: gender fluid

Love the main characters in this story and learned about gender fluid. It is critical this day and age to be knowledgeable about sense of gender versus sexual preference. Well written, well narrated and thoroughly enjoyable!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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this is truly one of the best books I've read

this book is amazing it hits all hard hit it subjects I feel like every teenager kid adults needs to read this at least once in their life to truly understand what it's like to have that feeling of anxiety or dysphoria are the feeling of not knowing and it shows what a true friendship or relationship could be people who care and stick by you no matter what how this book is a roller-coaster and I love every second of it 1000 out of 10 is my review probably more actually I don't think it could have been written any better

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Allows compassion and understanding

This book started off strong, but as someone who is 52 years old, it seemed better suited for a younger audience. I chose to read it to understand how others feel and the things they endure. I got a great understanding and appreciate how the author chose to write this important story. It is worth a read/listen, but do know that it goes into predictable territory.

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please don't end

I loved this book, like, it's one of those that makes you want to clear your schedule just to read/listen to. I was had listened to this book earlier. I love it too much and wish there was more.

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Excellent read or listen

Loved this book. Heartwarming and tackles a subject more of us need to be aware of. Narrator was perfect.

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wow

its great it has something that makes you stay up the whole night and finish that same day.Makes you want to race back to your device and reread or read it over and over. Great characters👌