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Thursday, October 15, 2015

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Review: None of the Above by. I.W. Gregorio (Heartbreaking, Humorous, and Mind Opening)

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above
I.W. Gregorio
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Reviewer: Sophia

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?

Under different circumstances, I would totally recommend this to the school library, but due to the content and maturity, it probably wouldn't make it. It's the thought that counts, right?

Despite the fact None of the Above touches topics that are completely uncomfortable for me to read about, I really enjoyed Gregorio's debut novel (it was also used as an argument in one of my essays for Composition). I've never read a book with an intersex character before, so it was an absolute delight to read None of the Above and be a little more educated than I currently am with my high school years.

I, however, find it highly disturbing that no one even questions not ever having a period and accept that it's completely normal not getting it even once in eighteen years. (This is not a punctuation pun as everyone seems to think.) I mean, it makes sense, considering the fact Kristin's mom died when she was young and Kristin is an athlete – it's probably uncomfortable for the father to talk to a daughter about the birds and bees. (My mom never really gave me the birds and bees talk. I found out for myself, partially thanks to health class.) But still... her Aunt Carla knew and didn't question it ("Why, you're just a late bloomer! A really late bloomer, but a late one nonetheless!"), her best friends Vee and Faith don't question it.

It's not until Kristin experiences extreme pain during sexual intercourse (nononononooooo, it is not that whole first time pain business ya'll hear about, but to describe it would make me feel more awkward than I already am writing this paragraph) that she starts questioning if there's anything wrong with her, and decides to take a trip to the gynecologist to find out. Consider me very baffled.

The whole bullying part is a depressing thing to read about. I've experienced it, simply because I'm Asian. It's a very miserable life. I love how in the grand scheme of things, Kristin's father is extremely supportive and tolerant of Kristin's condition. Despite the fact he panicked when they initially found out that Kristin is intersex, he still does research to find out more about AIS and intersex in general, and he tries to find ways to make things as normal as possible for Kristin. He encourages Kristin to join an AIS support group where there are others in, or have been in, situations just like Kristin's. I also love how Darren, Jessica, and just a really small group of their friends just tuck Kristin under their wings and accept her for what she is instead of joining in the fray of bullying.

None of the Above is a book about what it means to find out you're not black or white, but what it means to be something in between. It's a thought-provoking and mind opening book written in a humorous yet heartbreaking way.

4.5 Owls

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Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.