Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human Summary

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.

Book Reviews


Good book (Like, very good)5 star

Ive read this book twice and it never fails to make me cry, smile, and be shocked all at once! Please read this book if you have the time. :)55


Tears and Truth5 star

I had my choice of books laid out before me at the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester. After casual class introductions, I realized that in my class of thirty-some students I was among the youngest ones there, and I was the only one who openly identified as being a part of the LGBTQ community. And I’ve known for nearly a decade that I was not “normal”. Seeing Riley go through what I have gone through made me want to wrap them up in my arms and protect them from any further harm. But I am so grateful to see that they got, what I am calling, the best case scenario. Thank you for not shielding away from the truths LGBTQ youths (and adults) face. Thank you for writing a truth (even if I did cry more than once while reading). Thank you.55


Very moving book, changed my paradigm5 star

This book helped me understand the world we live in, the un-accepting world I grew up in and a glimmer of hope for the future. My daughter and I read this book together. She has has been mercilessly bullied in the past and this book helped her understand she is not alone in her struggle to get by and fit in.55

my dog is my whole life srsly

So great5 star

Read it at my library in Minnesota and was wowed. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ ppl, I loved the book and message. Peace out, my fellow HOMOsapiens55


(Listened to audio)4 star

This book is good and I am pleased that somebody forced me to read it.45


A beautiful piece5 star

This is by far one of the best novels I have read. It struck me to my core making me weep and smile along. I found moments which I could relate and moments where I had such strong emotions that I was over taken by the words. A true profound piece and I hope that people know that who ever sent in the review "This is cancer" that this person was most likely just wishing to be hateful. I doubt that they read the book all the way through and I believe that they just wanted to stir the pot. They most likely don't hate the book itself but what it stands for. To me this book stands for hope that people realize that gender isn't black and white and that the LGBT+ community is more than people who like the same gender as them. So I agree with those who stated that it "deserved 6 stars" and that they were "moved".Thank you Mr. Garvin for writing this lovely piece of literature and I hope you know that lots love this wonderful piece of literature.55

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Actually deserves 6 stars5 star

This is an amazing message for society. I definitely had a different and better perspective of things after reading and I have to say, few things actually move me to tears but "Symptoms of Being Human" is one of them.55


Moved5 star

Such a great read! This novel has amazing detail, explains throughly, and shows you a completely different look on other peoples struggles. It touched my heart, and I definitely fell in love with Riley. She has such a great personality, may have streaming thoughts, but I could definitely be friends with a gal like Riley. I couldn't put the book down, once I started. And when I did stop reading for the real life, I thought about Riley and all the other characters. Always curious of what happened next. I had a few good ideas, but once I got through each chapter I was surprised that it was something I didn't even think of. I've recommended this novel to everyone I know. So, don't second guess yourself to read this novel. If Jeff Garvin is to write another novel, I'll be sure to read that one as well. Incredible read!55

Aly-Girl 19

A Must-Read For Everyone5 star

Honestly, this book is great. This is a well-needed book for the world and Riley is a character that the world needed. This is a great book and I'd recommend it for everyone and anyone.55


This is cancer1 star

This deserves zero stars15

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