Sunday Street Team: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Published by Balzer + Bray
Published February 2nd, 2016


The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” 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. 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.

As a part of the Sunday Street Tour, hosted by Nori over at ReadWriteLove28, bloggers have been spreading the love for Symptoms of Being Human all month! Today I'm proud to present an excerpt from the book - I'm hoping this'll peak your interest and get your excitement level up.

OCTOBER 1, 6:55 AM
     The first thing you're going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?
I STOP TYPING AND STARE at the cursor, which flashes at me incessantly, as if mocking my inability to write one stupid post.
     "Riley!" It's my mom, calling me from downstairs in her singsongy voice. "If you still want to be early, you'd better come down for breakfast!" 
     I glance at the clock. I'm not really running that late - but I want to get the lay of the land while the campus is still mostly empty. "I'll be down in a minute!" I say, then click Delete, slam my laptop shut, and slide off my bed.
     At least I can tell Doctor Ann I tried.
     I stop in front of the mirror to examine myself. I don't know if this look will help me blend in at my new school, but it definitely exudes a sort of existential punk vibe, like, "I care so much, I don't care," that feels distinctly me. As a last touch, I mash down my bangs so they hide as much of my face as possible. It'll have to do.
     Downstairs, my mother gives me a wide smile. "First day!" she says.
     I manage to smile in return, and then I grab a box of cereal from the pantry and sit down at the table across from my dad.
     "Ready to conquer Park Hills High?" he says. Then he looks up from his tablet, and his smile wilts as he notices my outfit.
     I'm wearing a pair of jeans and my dad's old Ramones T-shirt, which I've modified to fit my smaller frame. Black Doc Martens - synthetic ones, no cows were harmed in the making of my shoes - round out the ensemble. I'm grateful that I don't have to wear a uniform anymore - I remember how suffocating it was to be confined to the same identity day after day, regardless of how I felt inside.
     But the truth is, it still doesn't matter how I feel - because however I show up today, people will expect me to look the same tomorrow. Including my parents.
     So my only choice is to go neutral. 
Well this certainly sounds interesting, doesn't it? I hope this excerpt was able to increase your interest - I was hooked from the moment the book began!

Meet Jeff Garvin!
Before becoming a novelist, Jeff Garvin acted on TV and toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman University and lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding beasts.

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