ARC Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Edelweiss 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 2nd 2016
Add it to Goodreads / Pre-Order it on Amazon

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.


This was the first 2016 book I read in 2015, and it really set the bar. Symptoms of Being Human really has the ability to change lives. It definitely changed the way I thought about some things and opened my eyes to others. Jeff Garvin broke my heart into a million pieces and put it back together again. 

Riley is gender fluid. Some days she identifies as a girl and other days her internal compass points all the way to boy. Her mother and congressman father have no clue of their child's identity, and constantly push her towards being a girl. Under the advice of a Therapist Riley beings anonymous blog to let out her feelings, soon it becomes a huge hit and her no follower blogs climbs to over 30,000 followers. 

Initially Garvin gave us no hints of Riley's birth gender, it was subtle hints dropped through out Symptoms of Being Human that you go the impression that Riley was born a girl. Riley describes her decision of dressing or behaving more like another gender by a compass. Sometimes it points more towards the feminine side and other times the masculine side. Riley doesn't like being forced into a gender category and it tends to give her anxiety. It was interesting to see that something as simple as changing the way Riley would walk in the hallway would relieve that pent up pressure and anxiousness. 

My heart really went out to the way Riley was treated. Being run out of her old high school because she was being harassed by the other students. Riley hopes that her new public school would be better, but sadly it isn't. The football players make her their target, constantly calling her names, verbally attacking her, and even going as far to attack her in a alley way. It was friends like Solo and Bec that really made me happy for Riley. She deserved so much more then what people gave her, and Bec and Solo were able to see right through it all. 

Symptoms of Being Human is a book that will stick out in your mind long after you read the last page. 



  1. This sounds like a very compelling and memorable read! I'm not into YA contemporary so I personally hadn't heard of this one before. Actually kind of surprising because it's a Harper book (and I stalk them like nobody's business O_O). Five stars is amazing! I'm glad you loved this one so much, Amber! Lovely review. :)

    Have a fabulous week!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. Thank you! I was a little on the fence about it, there weren't many reviews when I started it. But it is such an amazing. Something I believe is needed in this day and age.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I am so glad to see that this one was good! I can't wait for it to come out because it sounds completely unique. Great review! :)
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

    1. Thank you! The uniqueness is one of the best qualities of this book. I hope you enjoy it! :)


Please note that if your comment doesn’t appear right away it’s because we have to approve it & Make sure to clock the "notify me" box so you can check back once your comment has been approved! ❤️