Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (InfoSoup)

Riley carefully chooses the right clothes for the first day of public school, probably more carefully than another other teen ever has. Riley’s clothes need to blend in, but Riley has never been good at that, particularly with having a congressman for a father but even more so because being gender fluid makes dressing all the more complicated. When a therapist tells Riley to start a blog and find a cause, Riley starts to write online about what it is really like to be a gender fluid teen. At school, Riley is starting to fit in with new friends and what could be a budding romance if Riley is reading the signs right. But then advice Riley has given to a transgender teen online takes makes the blog go viral and the issue gets national attention. Soon Riley realizes there is a local stalker reading the blog, threatening to reveal Riley’s identity to everyone.

Garvin has managed to write an entire novel without letting readers know the gender that Riley was assigned at birth. It’s a tremendous feat, made all the more amazing because readers will not notice what he is doing. A large part of that is because Riley is an incredibly engaging and extraordinary character, filled with angst about gender but also longing for friends and even a dash of romance. Riley is a blaze of light as a character, burning so brightly on the page that is impossible to look away. This is a book that you read in one long gulp, caught in the world the author has created so vividly. It is a book that dances with disaster, offering a protagonist who is smart, courageous and simply superb.

Garvin deals with a series of serious issues in this novel. He does not shy away from any of it, which makes the book all the more raw and engaging. He shows exactly what being androgynous is like, the bullying and speculation about a person’s gender. He speaks to the tragedy of suicide in the trans population, the hatred that is directed their way, the lack of understanding and even violence by parents. He turns his attention to sexual attacks as well, creating a book that is riveting to read but also very important to have on library shelves.

An impressive, important and glorious teen novel about one gender fluid teen who will let you understand what being gender fluid is about and the courage it takes to be yourself every day. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss.

I Hear a Pickle by Rachel Isadora

I Hear a Pickle by Rachel Isadora

I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!) by Rachel Isadora (InfoSoup)

A book about your senses, this picture book invites the youngest of children to think about their senses and the many ways they use them in life. Starting with hearing, the book offers examples of different things that children may hear in their day like birds, bees and waves. There are also things you can’t hear, like worms. There are loud and soft noises too. Smelling has good smells like soap and bad smells like sneakers and baby diapers. Sight offers light and dark, the joy of wearing glasses to help you see, and the fun of reading. Touch has animals and rain, but also things not to touch like hot stoves or electric plugs. Taste is filled with foods, even ones like spinach that you may not want to eat at first. And then it all comes together in one crunchy pickle in the end.

Isadora uses small pictures on the page to show all sorts of interactions with the world. Children will enjoy seeing the things that they have done and then will want to talk about other ideas they have of things they have experienced with their senses. This is a book that starts a conversation with small children. Are there other things that are crunchy to eat? Other things that are dangerous to touch? Other things that you can’t hear at all? This book invites that sort of exploration of the child’s own world.

A joyous exploration of all of your senses that will have toddlers listening hard. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.