Parents' Guide to

Symptoms of Being Human

By Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Empathetic, empowering story of gender-fluid teen.

Symptoms of Being Human Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 10+

This is an important, fabulous book for teens.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin is a fabulous book, well-written, and relatable for any teen, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Riley starts at a new school and makes two new friends. It's about what every kid struggles with - can they find their people and are they lovable, no matter what? The main character, Riley, is grappling with their gender identity and starts a blog about being gender fluid. Riley is a compassionate, kind, funny person, who struggles to find a place where they belong and feel loved, like every teen. This book is appropriate for all teens. There's no drinking or drugs or sex. There is a sexual assault, but there are no details on the page. This is a really important book, building compassion and acceptance for all people. Anybody who reads this book will gain an understanding for what it's like to be trans or gender fluid. I think it should be in every school, available to all kids.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 12+

Great book

If you are unfamiliar with the term ‘gender fluid,’ this is a great book to learn about it. You will love the characters.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (18):

Like its hero, this keenly observed portrait of a gender-fluid teen desperate to live authentically defies easy categorization. It has obvious appeal for LGBTQ teens and allies, but it's also a moving depiction of anxiety anyone can relate to. SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN is a tenderly written and empathetic debut from Jeff Garvin, who remarkably avoids using any gender-specific pronouns in describing Riley and never reveals which gender Riley was assigned at birth.

The general plot line feels stale for this generation -- teen with nonconforming gender identity stays closeted, is sexually attacked, and decides to come out. But getting to know Riley could be a breathtaking experience for gender-fluid teens, who see so little of their reality reflected in mainstream media. And for friends, family, and anyone else trying to better understand gender dysphoria, Garvin writes with heartfelt compassion.

Book Details

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