Symptoms of Being Human



Cover of this title
Symptoms of Being Human
Jeff Garvin

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

This teenage novel on identity construction, gender fluidity, internet blogging, peer pressure and coming out follows the story of Riley Cavanaugh, a nonbinary teenager, who neither fully identifies as a boy or a girl. Riley always has been rebellious, but his father, who is a right-wing conservative politician in Orange County has no clue that his child is at the middle of the gender spectrum. To cope with the confusing situation, Riley’s therapist suggests him/her to write about the anxieties and hopes. On this advice, Riley begins an online blog under the pseudonym ‘Alix’, which goes viral on the internet until an anonymous comment reveals Riley’s identity to the public. How will the unwanted coming out affect Riley’s life?

Symptoms of Being Human does create awareness for gender fluidity and might fuel classroom discussions about identity, bullying and the role of blogging on the internet. The text is suitable for a project week on diversity and LGBTQ+ topics or interdisciplinary teaching with the subjects of Social Science and Ethics.

· · 2016

Critical edition

Garvin, Jeff. Symptoms of Being Human. Balzer + Bray, 2016. 352 pp., ISBN 9780062382863

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In favour of this entry

  • Addresses current affairs
  • Award-winning
  • Gender equality
  • Interdisciplinary or cross-curricular teaching
  • Silenced voices
  • Students can identify with the text