Skip to main content

Book Review: Symptoms of Being Human

Title: Symptoms of Being Human
Author: Jeff Garvin
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Reviewer: Julia

Why is Symptoms of Being Human such a great book? I am not sure if I have enough space in this post to tell you all of the reasons why I love it. In general, this book by Jeff Garvin is so wonderful because of the "different-ness" of the book. Not every teen book you come across will address anxiety, depression, the LBGT+ community, friendships, bullying, and more in only 330 pages. Yet somehow, Garvin accomplishes this and so much more.

Let's start with the main character of the novel: Riley. They truly are amazing, and I have to agree with Robin Talley, author of What We Left Behind, when they said that Riley is a "real lead who I know will stay with me for a long time." With a witty and strong voice, Riley Cavanaugh is a wonderful (here comes the LBGT+ part) genderfluid teen who is just trying to get through life. (For those of you who are not aware of what it means to be genderfluid, allow me to inform you. To be genderfluid is to not fit in the gender binary, meaning that a genderfluid individual is neither "boy" or "girl". Their gender changes, and can fall anywhere upon the gender spectrum, from feeling like a girl, a boy, a mix, or neither.) Riley has issues just like every one of us, and, unlike most teen novels, romance is not an issue for them. (Although, if you really must know, some romance is included.)

This is the cover of my copy without the jacket. It just has a
purple streak of lightning. Isn't it beautiful?
Riley struggles with ongoing anxiety and depression, and this can be hard for them while they also deal with their other problems. This includes the pressure that comes with being a congressman's child, keeping their gender identity a secret, merciless bullies, and trying to make friends in a new school where they might be teased for their gender identity.

When Riley makes an anonymous blog on the suggestion from his therapist, they never expected the amount of publicity it got. Everyone was seeing it...including a collection of rude kids from their school. Suddenly, all of Riley's problems become noticeably larger, and keeping secrets become more and more difficult...

Overall, this novel is relatable and inspiring, and definitely a book you should read. You might cry. You might laugh. But in the end, you'll certainly feel more confident of yourself and sure of what it really means to be human. 

Check out Julia's review on another meaningful book, The Light Between Oceans.
"Okay, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give a book infinity out of 5, but I'm going to do it because this book was that good. I have never cried so much or intensely over a single book. (I cried throughout the book and in one consistent stream for the last 50 pages.) I am so in love with it that I have made a shrine of sorts (still looking for a better term for it) on top of my dresser dedicated to it. (Em even contributed to this shrine by making me a lovely drawing of the cover of the book!)

The Light Between Oceans is a wonderful story. Using third person point of view, author M. L. Stedman weaves together marvelous characters and beautiful descriptions to create..." Read more


  1. Wow! This is a very interesting topic. I'm glad that some teens today are willing to read and talk about it.

    1. Yes, I am too! I believe that more teens should read it. (Hence the review.) I hope that you will read and enjoy it too!

  2. This sounds like a very complex book! Glad you enjoyed it.


Post a Comment

We would like to hear from you! What did you think of this post? Do you have any suggestions? Then please leave a comment. (We allow anonymous comments too!)

This Month's Popular Posts

2017 Reading Goals - Update

Now that we're more or less halfway through 2017, I decided that it's about time to do a little update on how well Em and I are doing with the reading goals we made for ourselves at the beginning of 2017. We didn't make our goals extremely specific. All we did was choose a number based on how much we wanted to read and what seemed reasonable based on how much we knew we had read in 2016. And now it's time to reflect on those goals... oh boy.

I honestly don't think things are going well for Em. When I asked her if she remembered her original goal, she had no clue. (It was 50 books!) But, after a few months with only one book finished at the end of each one, she had lessened her goal to a more reasonable 30. (She couldn't remember this number, either!) Drawing knowledge from my experience with my monthly goals for Reading is Inevitable, I don't think that you can do all too well if you don't remember your goals. And it looks like this is true for Em as w…

Denik's New Layflat Softcover Notebooks - Review

Hey there everyone! If you've seen our bookstagram recently, you would know that we got some amazing new Denik notebooks! Now if you've never heard the name "Denik" before then I think it's time that you know, and after you read this post go check out their website, okay? (They actually came out with a new website design, too. It's amazing.)

Denik is so much more than just a notebook/sketchbook-selling company. The word Denik describes the whole community and cause that surrounds the company, a "grassroots, artsy-eclectic bunch", as it is so beautifully described on their website. The designs displayed on the covers of their products are made by artists around the world, no matter who they are or where they come from. With the income from the notebooks and sketchbooks they sell, Denik gives some to support these artists and to build schools for children around the world. The whole idea that Denik is built upon is that, together, art and people can …

All the Books I Own But Have Not Read (Part 1)

As of Wednesday, June 21st, summer is officially here. Ah: summer. That season when the sun comes out and kids get off from school. And, yes, while this does sound nice, this also means that it's going to be really hot and you're going to have so much time on your hands that you won't know what to do with it. Lucky for me, however, I also happen to own a whole bunch of books that I haven't yet read.

That's reasonable, though, right? Us bookworms find it a little hard to buy just one book when going to the bookstore, and since you kinda have a reputation for loving books, there's a good chance that you'll receive two or three books around holidays and birthdays. And you don't even want to get me started about book sales. Therefore, the books just start to pile up a bit. And while you'd love to read them, school and/or work and just life in general gets in the way.

However, the school year ended quite a bit ago. Summer vacation has begun. I finally h…

Quotes: Audacity

As some of you may know by looking at my posts on our social media page (@readingisinevitable on Instagram), I am currently reading Audacity by Melanie Crowder. It is a beautiful book written in free verse, and follows the life of Clara Lemlich, a female Jewish immigrant who came to America in the early 1900s. (For the full summary of the book, click here.) I absolutely love books written in free verse, or any type of poetry, in fact! This book is so lovely that I have decided to dedicate a whole post to some of my favorite quotes or parts! (Note: I am only on page 294, and there are 366 pages, not including the extra content at the end of my local library's copy.)