Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff GarvinSymptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human

byJeff Garvin

Hardcover | February 2, 2016

see the collection LGBTQ+ Teen Reads

Pricing and Purchase Info

$20.52 online 
$21.99 list price save 6%
Earn 103 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


Starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist * YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers * ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults List * 2017 Rainbow

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.

Title:Symptoms of Being HumanFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:352 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.13 inShipping dimensions:8.25 × 5.5 × 1.13 inPublished:February 2, 2016Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062382861

ISBN - 13:9780062382863


Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved this book i loved the writing style, and riley was a very well thought out and unique character
Date published: 2017-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved Loved Loved Well I just read for three hours straight. I loved this book. I loved the voice of the main character, and how they described their dysphoria. I loved the blog posts, and their replies to comments. I loved Riley's friends, and the way they got through things together. I loved how I hated reading some of it, because it felt so real and awful and gave me anxiety not knowing how bad things might get, even thought it wasn't real. Because even though the characters in the book aren't real, this is still real, and people in real life are mean, and just thinking of how this kind of thing happens in real life and how horrible it would be to be on the receiving end of it. I loved that there was hope throughout the entire novel, even when Riley was being harassed and no one was standing up for them. I loved when people stood up for them. I loved it.
Date published: 2017-05-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a story! A great addition to your library.
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! Really loved this book! The characters, the plotline, the dialogue. The writing was amazing and intriguing and complex. I loved the unique premise. Highly recommend!
Date published: 2017-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotional This book was my introduction into gender fluidity. I'm no expert but I feel this book did a good job explaining it and those who are gender fluidity. it was an emotional book for me, and I learned a lot. So glad I read this one.
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and Educational I actually did not know that gender fluidity was a thing. Impressed by the author's ability to not use pronouns for Riley :D Educational and voiced legitimate concerns in society. It was really interesting to learn about and it was enjoyable at the same time.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Emotional Rollercoaster Riley Cavanaugh is the child of a congressman trying to get re-elected, just switched from a private to a public school, and is gender fluid. This means Riley isn’t a boy or a girl, but both. But Riley hasn’t come out yet and is having a hard time copping with it all. In an attempt to break Riley’s shell, a therapist who knows about Riley’s gender identity suggest an anonymous blog. After a hard first day at the new school Riley decides to start the blog under the name Alix, not thinking it will come of anything. But to Riley’s surprise, the blog goes viral and Riley begins to receive messages that suggest someone knows that Alix is actually Riley. This emotional rollercoaster captivated me from the get go. Riley’s story has the ability to connect with anyone despite their gender identity. The outcast appeal of Riley, Bec, and Solo can feel relatable to anyone. The author clearly did their homework with trying to explain what it is gender fluidity is. With celebrities coming out stating they are themselves gender fluid it is nice to finally understand what it is and what goes through the minds of those who are trying to find their place on the gender spectrum. The blog was a great addition to the story. Being able to read what Riley is putting out there and seeing the consequences (some good, some bad) that can come along with it can show how websites like the fictional Bloglr or the website it was most likely based on, Tumblr, are a great outlet for those who feel they have no one to turn to. This makes the character of Riley even more relatable. This book is an all around sensation and will be on the top of my recommendation list for quite sometime.
Date published: 2016-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Important topic handled well Riley Cavanaugh is gender fluid. There are days Riley identifies as a boy, some days as a girl. About to start a new school, and having a congressman for a father who’s running for reelection in an extremely conservative district, Riley feels a lot of pressure to fit in. Riley’s not out yet and to help with all the anxiety, a therapist suggests starting a blog where Riley can vent anonymously about life and what it’s like to be a gender fluid teenager. Just as Riley’s starting to feel calm and settled at the new school, the blog goes viral and there’s one commenter claiming to know Riley’s identity. Riley has a choice to make: walk away from the blog that has become very important or stand up to the bully and come out. This book completely sucked me in. I was captivated by Riley’s story and struggles. It was clear that a lot of research went into this book and I really appreciated Riley’s way of explaining things. The blog entries and comments were woven into the story in ways that made sense and didn’t distract from Riley’s story, instead it added to it. Riley was a great character that was easy to empathize with. Every day was a struggle because there was no telling which gender would be more prominent so Riley tended to dress and act in a way that was neutral. The blog gave Riley an outlet to vent but also to connect with people who were also struggling with sexuality or gender identity. Riley had a smart, snarky voice that was likeable and easy to read. I also appreciated that Riley wasn’t written in a way that made gender identity the main thing about the character. Riley had flaws and made mistakes and was a well-rounded character who showed growth throughout the book. I absolutely loved the friendships that formed in this book. Riley bonded both with a girl who seemed happy to be an outcast and a football player who used to be an outcast. The friendships were very different from each other but still fit well when the three were together. It was interesting to see the ways Riley would interact and react depending on if it was Bec around or Solo around. The plot focused a lot of Riley’s daily struggles as a gender fluid teen and I liked the repetitiveness of it since these were not struggles that would magically go away after one good day or one person’s acceptance. I thought Jeff Garvin did a great job of adding tension with the anonymous commenter’s threats of exposure and Riley’s parents expectations without making it seem like it was happening just to pile more struggles on Riley. It all had a purpose. He also did a great job in giving information about gender fluid struggles within the story without it feeling dry. It ended up being a very quick read but really, mostly because I couldn’t put it down and I didn’t want to. *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2016-02-13

Editorial Reviews

"An important introduction for readers who know little about gender fluidity and a welcome nod to those who may be experiencing similar feelings."