Book Review: Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being HumanSeries: Standalone
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Mental Illness, Contemporary, LQBTQ+, Young Adult
Pages: 335
Source: Gift, Hardcover
Rating: ✬✬✬✬


The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” 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. 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.

Goodreads/ Amazon / Book Depository

Favorite Quote

“We’re all taught from a young age that there are only two choices: pink or blue, Bratz or Power Rangers, cheerleading or football. We see gender in two dimensions because that’s what society has taught us from birth. But, are you ready for a shocking revelation?


Oh man. Oh man, oh man, oh man. I don’t know how to rearrange my thoughts to form a coherent review so this will probably be a jumbled mess. Moving forward, I loved this book. I loved the story. I loved being inside Rileys head. I loved the characters. Just… well… everything.

The only reason I’m giving this a 4/5 star is because I don’t know if it accurately represents people that are gender fluid. however, I did take an LGBTQ+ studies class in college where i had gender fluid classmates with gender non-binary classmates and a transgender guy as my professor. So I think with confidence I can say this book explains what gender fluid is pretty well.

I can say this book represents anxiety really well. I understood Rileys anxiety and where they were coming from. I understood the panic and anxious feelings going on in their head. It was perfect.

Moving along, I love that the author didn’t use any pronouns to describe Riley. The book never tells you what gender Riley was assigned to at birth. It didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes Riley feels like a boy, sometimes a girl, sometimes neither.

This book captured my attention from page one and I got invested in Rileys story. The book was nearly impossible to put down. i thought the writing was good and flowed well with the story. not once did i find myself thinking “god this is so boringggg”.

This book ripped my heart in pieces and left me bleeding. it also made me so hopeful. I’m so glad this book was written and published. it deserves to be read. Rileys story deserves to be out there. highly recommend this. 💙


6 thoughts on “Book Review: Symptoms of Being Human”

  1. Wow! Adding this to my TBR now! I don’t read enough LGBTQ+ books, but I would love to start soon, and this seems like such an eye-opening read.


  2. I was lucky enough to get an eARC of this book a few months before I came out, when I was writing on a different blog, and it sounded wonderful. I just never got to it :/ Your review has renewed my interest in checking it out though! This would be a great month to read it too ^_^


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