Saturday, January 28, 2017

Symptoms of Being Human

Volume Thirty in the Book That Matters Series

"'As for wondering if it's okay to be who you are--that's not a symptom of mental illness. That's a symptom of being a person.'" - Doctor Ann in Jeff Garvin's Symptoms of Being Human

Is Riley a boy or a girl? That question is at the forefront of everyone's mind in Jeff Garvin's young adult novel, Symptoms of Being Human.

Riley is a gender fluid teen with an internal gauge that sometimes points more feminine, other times more masculine, and at times hovers somewhere between the two. The novel is told in first person from Riley's point of view so readers are not aware of the gender assigned to Riley at birth. And as Riley reflects it is usually the first thing people want to know about someone. Even Riley, occasionally, makes mistakes when assigning genders to new people.

This powerful novel shows the struggle of a teen trying to find acceptance in a new high school,  in a home with a conservative congressman father up for reelection and a mother supporting that campaign, in the blogging community where Riley writes under the anonymous name of Alix, in friendships with Bec and Solo, and in one's own self. Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin is a book that matters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Phantom Limbs

Volume Twenty Nine in the Books That Matter Series

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner is a tragic young adult novel about three teenagers coping with the pain of all they lost in the past few years. Otis lost his younger brother, Mason, three years ago and hasn't spoken to Meg, his best friend and first love, since she moved away around that same time. Meg has been dealing with a lot since Mason's death and is returning to Willow Grove after years of separating herself from the town and all that happened there. Dara has known Otis since Meg left and is coaching him to become an Olympic swimmer, having lost her chances at achieving that goal when part of her arm was amputated years ago. Each character has their own baggage and their own unique way of getting through each day but all three are dealing with phantom limbs and the pain that comes along with that. Phantom Limbs is beautifully written and so heartbreakingly devastating, earning its place as a book that matters.