Tuesday, July 7, 2015

None of the above by I. W. Gregorio

Kristin Lattimer appears to have it all - an amazing boyfriend, best friends who helped her deal with her mothers death and still lover her like a sister, and a bright future thanks to an athletics scholarship.  Everything is bright and rosy, even though she is named homecoming queen instead of her friend, and her first sexual experience on the same night leaves her feeling scared and in pain.  When she visits the doctor to try and solve the mystery of why it hurt so much she learns that she is intersex - she may look and feel like a girl, but there are some extra "parts" that are all male.  

In a matter of days her whole world spins out of control as people try to fit her neatly into traditional gender boxes, regardless of how she feels or what it truly means to be intersex.  Trying to deal with the situation on her own quickly turns into a bigger mess as all the emotional roller coaster rides and betrayals threaten to break her heart and her spirit.  Everything has changed with a single diagnosis, and how Kristin deals with the revelations will dictate the rest of her life.

I have no personal experience of knowing a person who is intersex, although I do know some transgender individuals - so I entered into reading None of the above with a certain amount of trepidation because you never know what to expect.  What I found was a book that was written with an incredible amount of sensitivity and understanding of what it means to be a teenager who discovers they are intersex - and what it means to be a teenager full stop.  This is not a light fluffy read, and some teenagers may struggle to understand the context and social repercussions of the diagnosis so it is better suited to older teens or teens who have adults they can talk to openly and honestly about the subject matter as well as the story.

I was not the only person I know to read this book, and a colleague and I had some interesting conversations around it.  I felt that Kristin is portrayed in a realistic fashion and that the people around her react as you would expect - the good and the bad.  I found her to be justifiably a little bit whiny and self absorbed while she is absorbing and trying to understand her diagnosis.  The reactions of her friends also seemed to gel and I was calling her friend Vee a few choice words in my head at times.  My colleague found that Kristin was too whiny and held grudges - which I guess I can see too.  The ending also brought around an interesting part of the discussion - I felt it was a little too neat, but that overall the story provides some hope that there is a time past the diagnosis and that some people will be accepting and supportive.

This is a book that has needed to be written, providing a voice and hope for young people who discover that in a society where "we" expect people to fit neatly into gender "norms" that that is simply not always possible.  If you know a "Kristin", or if you just want to learn more about what it might be like to discover that you are not like everyone else, then try reading None of the above and see what you think.

If you like this book then try:
  • Hate list by Jennifer Brown
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
  • Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher
  • I swear by Lane Davis
  • Rooftop by Paul Volponi
  • The truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
  • Panic by Sharon M. Draper
  • The mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Such a pretty girl by Laura Wiess
  • Dead to you by Lisa McMann
  • Living dead girl by Elizabeth Scott

Reviewed by Brilla

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