Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Review: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Review: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Release date: April 7th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Length: 352 pages
Source: eARC via Edelweiss/ARC from ALAMW15
Rating: Extremely important (and extremely brutal on mah feels)
A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex . . . and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.
What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?
When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.
But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned--something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."
Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?
Honestly, it would have been difficult for me not to love this book due to subject matter alone. It's literally the only YA novel starring an intersex main character that I have ever read or can even think of (if you know of others, please share in the comments! I'd love to read more). So unless this book was somehow heinously offensive, I knew I was going to enjoy reading it even if it was lacking other positive aspects. But lucky for me, None of the Above was a great, emotionally charged read, in addition to being groundbreaking, informative, and extremely important.
(Side note: man, do covers with white backgrounds look weird on this blog. ALL THE COVER BITS ARE JUST FLOATING THERE. How unsettling.)
Intersexuality is simply not something most people are familiar with, let alone knowledgeable about. Before reading NotA, I fell somewhere on the spectrum between "adequately informed" and "reasonably educated", but NotA does a brilliant job of diving deeper into the personal issues that one teenage girl dealing with one singular aspect of intersexuality would struggle with.
Because really, this is the story of Kristin. Her story involves her diagnosis of intersexuality and the chaos this causes in every aspect of her life, and the way she's forced to reconfigure her own sense of self...while realizing that her actual self is the same as ever, except stronger. GAHHH, FEELS. I wanted to just scoop Kristin up in my arms and roundhouse kick 90% of the evil characters in this book in the face (literally Sam you can fall into the hellfires of Mt. Doom and disentigrate to ash you scumsucking turdpiss) (I am a charming individual) because OH. MY. GOD. ARE. PEOPLE. TERRIBLE.
(Seriously Kristin was way too nice BLAH BLAH learning lessons forgiveness and good personing etc yes I know but um if I were Kristin I would have shoved those bitches to the bottom of the sea and then popped all their air bubbles and laughed)
It really made me question my own privelege and how lucky I was to grow up in a part of the country and to attend the sort of high school that would not have reacted SO COMPLETELY VICIOUSLY. My priveleged brain, subjected to the extremely heinous bullying Krissy suffers, for sure at one point muttered, "Is that even realistic? In 2015?" BUT, UM, IT IS. It so is, Gillian's Idiot Brain. THIS IS WHY YOU HAVE TEARS IN YOUR EYES, IDIOT GILLIAN. Tears. In. Your. Eyes.
So. Yeah. Clearly, this book is not fun and joy at all times, though it's also not heinousely depressing by any means. In fact, it's gloriously uplifting. Kristin's world is full of shit, but she carves a new world for herself made up of glorious golden dream people I wanted to full on kiss in the face (Gretchen, you divinity). New, supportive friendships blossom, and Kristin really comes into her own. And the romance is so! completely! adorable! I was wary of it for several Spoilery Reasons, but ackkkk, so cuuuuute. Cutest of cutes.
Maybe like 1% more personality from Kristin (though i LOVED that she was an athlete who was so passionate about hurdles even though that is obviously something I can't relate to one iota because who likes running). Perhaps it missed that tiny smidge of magic that makes a read go from great to OMGFAVORITEEEE, that thing that's so entirely personal that it's almost impossible to predict. But overall, I really enjoyed reading None of the Above and recommend it wholeheartedly. I couldn't put it down, and it made me cry and rage and then rage again (NO SERIOUSLY SAM YOU HAD BETTER HIDE FROM ME I WILL GRIND YOUR BONES TO MAKE POISON BREAD THAT I WILL THEN FORCE FEED YOU)