Symptoms of Being Human

Symptoms of Being Human - Jeff Garvin

I have mixed feeling about this novel. I liked that Riley gave others a way to express themselves by setting up a blog so that they could write in and talk about their own feeling and concerns but Riley never took ownership of this blog. I liked that Riley went to therapy where finally Riley could be honest about life and the personal feelings that Riley kept bottled up inside. But, what really upset me about this novel was that Riley’s own parents didn’t know who Riley really was. Riley claims that the gender topic came into question at a young age and now, while in high school, Riley’s parents still don’t know? How can they not notice the changes in Riley? How can they not notice Riley’s lack of identity?

 

The more that I read this novel, the more I begin to feel sorry for the individuals in Riley’s life. I didn’t feel that Riley respected them or that Riley was treating them fairly. I honestly don’t think Riley even realized that when Riley was not honest with them, she was hurting these individuals. When Riley was around Bee, I just about lost it. Where was this relationship supposed to go and who was to benefit? Riley talked privately about gender fluid, about being neutral, and Riley even dressed neutral yet some days that didn’t even help. Riley was bullied at school and even switched schools because lacking a gender identity drew the attention of others and made Riley a target. When was Riley really going to address the issue that he has been avoiding? When will Riley show others the real Riley? It will make his life less complicated and I believe the individuals in his life will understand him more.