Symptoms of Being Human || Review

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
(cover pic + summary from goodreads)

(all views in this review are my own)


It's not that simple. The world isn't binary. Everything isn't black or white, yes or no. Sometimes it's not a switch, it's a dial. And it's not even a dial you can get your hands on; it turns without your permission, or approval.

I've just been sitting here staring at this book and whispering,"oh my god I love it," over and over again, tbh. 
Symptoms of Being Human is about Riley, a gender fluid teen, who isn't really out yet, and who starts up an anonymous blog after the advice of their therapist. I can't stress enough just how important and fantastic this book was-- not to mention it being extremely informative + eye-opening as well. There was so much detail + info on being gender fluid, as well as the struggles and hardships that come with trying to find acceptance and coming out. 

Something was just so magnetic to me about Riley's voice, and within the first chapter, I already knew that this was going to be a book that I loved and treasured. I adored how Jeff didn't ever disclose what Riley's birth-assigned gender was, + his little note at the end about how he viewed Riley as simply a person. I felt for Riley all throughout the book, and thought that their narration was extremely well-done. There were moments where Riley wasn't perfect, and even made assumptions about other people and their identities-- showing that we all try to fit people into categories and judge, but that it's our feelings after realizing otherwise, + trying to break that mind-set of judging, that truly make a difference in the scheme of things. 

As for Riley's friends-- SOLO WAS A PRECIOUS BEAN OH MY LORD. He was such a teddy bear kind of guy, and was (surprisingly) a really geeky Star Wars/Doctor Who loving guy. The scene where he brought Riley his chewbacca backpack was just so utterly precious and warmed my heart. His friendship, itself, with Riley was really sweet, + he and Bec also bounced off of each other magnificently. 

"I couldn't find Bullet Head," Solo says. 
"You've been there," Bec says. "And it's Bullet Hole." 
Solo throws up his hands. "Well, that's why. I was looking for a sign with a head on it." 
"The sign does have a head on it, you nincompoop. A head with a bullet hole in it." 
Solo frowns. "Did you just use the word 'nincompoop'?" 
"I'm reviving the Dickensian insult movement." 
"There is no Dickensian insult movement." 
"Then I'm starting one."


"People are not canned goods, Riley. We don't need labels."

For whatever odd reason, she reminded me so much of Chloe from Life Is Strange. (???) I adored her and thought she was such a terrific character. The story about her sister made me so emotional. Bec has worked so hard to try and keep the family together; taking care of her sick and frazzled mom, and her rude brother. I'm glad she singled out Riley and took them under her wing, + was their friend/girlfriend. Their banter with one another was one of my favorite aspects of the book. 

"Do we have to go?" I say. Bec glances out the window, then back at me. "If we leave now, we could be in Mexico before the game ends. No one would know we were gone." "We could take on fake names." "We could wear sombreros." "And six-guns."

I've seen a lot of reviewers say that there wasn't really a plot/arc, but I guess I'm going to be the odd one out, and disagree with that. The book was about Riley accepting that they are the way they are, and that there's nothing wrong with that. It was coming to terms with people's reactions, and coming out to their parents. The plot was acceptance, and though it sounds basic (and probably was to some), I found it be really moving, and an important message for others out there going through similar things to Riley. I'm sure in years to come there will be authors who happen to write stories like this and write it with even more of an emotional and enhanced plot-- but I thought Symptoms of Being Human was pretty damn good and important. I sincerely hope this starts the flow of more books about gender fluid, + other, teens. 

Bottom-line: I thought this was terrific, and I think Jeff Garvin did a wonderful job, considering this is his debut book. The story is an important one, and I think there's a very good chance that it will help people like Riley. Bec & Solo have become two of my new favorite characters, and I'll cherish this book for a long while. 

"People are complicated. And messy. Seems too convenient that we'd all fit inside some multiple-choice question."

*5 out of 5 stars*

Have you read Symptoms of Being Human? If so, what did you think? Have you read any books that discuss important/relevant things that you'd recommend? 

Have a lovely morning/day/evening/night. Don't forget to smile. You're magnificent. ^-^


  1. THIS SOUNDS AMAZING. And I do love banter, so that's a plus. I also have to admit that your photos are slightly convincing me because they're just so gorgeous. Love the different focusing in those last two :)

    1. IT WAS. I love banter, too. ^-^
      Ah, thank you so much! That means a lot. <3
      xx a

  2. I have not read it, but now i really want to!
    And if you know of any other books with LGBT+ characters, i would like to hear your recommendations.

    1. I hope you do! I thought it was terrific. :)
      Of course! A small list for you: We Are the Ants: Shaun David Hutchinson// I'll Give You the Sun: Jandy Nelson// Carry On: Rainbow Rowell// Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe: Benjamin Alire Saenz// The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley: Shaun David Hutchinson//
      xx a

    2. OH! I just remembered this was here, and had to go back and check for reccomendations. Lo and behold, here they are! Donald had been reading I'll Give You The Sun just before he left for alaska and has been insisting that i read it, so that'll be the first i go find.

  3. 5 out of 5 stars? I really want to read this one now! It sounds absolutely amazing! I love diverse books and it makes me so happy that more and more of them are being published. This sounds like it handles the diversity in such a wonderful and honest way and that makes me so excited to read it. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    1. I hope you give it a read! I'd love to see what you think of it. ^-^
      Thanks for the sweet comment! <3
      xx a

  4. Ahhhh your photos are gorgeous here! *flails* I unfortunately didn't have a good time with this book at all. *heavy sigh* I found Riley's voice really irritating and it bothered me that Riley seemed to skip a lot of things I thought gender fluid people would struggle with. Like Riley never mentioned having troubles with like, say, a period on a day when they felt like a boy, or having to shave on a day when they felt like a girl? (Not that Riley would have both, just that we don't know is what I mean.) So I ended up with a lot of questions on how life as a gender-fluid person would be effected in those aspect. BUT STILL I DON'T WANT TO RAIN ON YOUR PARADE SO I'M SUPER GLAD YOU ADORED IT!! *cheers for you* :D :D

    1. GAH THANK YOU. *flails too*
      Oh, I'm sorry that you didn't like it! I know a lot of reviewers said they didn't like Riley's voice-- I guess I'm just the odd one out on this one. :3
      I think I went into it looking more for just general background on it? Like more the emotional/mental side and how a gender-fluid person actually feels??? I'd love to read a book that addressed being gender fluid in more in-depth ways like you said, though. I guess I just thought that for the time being, and with the story-line/way it was written, it was really good. >-<
      xx a


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