Sunday, April 12, 2015

ARC Review:None of The Above by I.W. Gregorio

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 world completely unravels. With everything she thought she knew thrown into question, can she come to terms with her new self?

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.

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What I thought about None of the Above
Gender identity has been in the news and a topic of discussion in many other forums and it's a conversation that I've been having with my coworkers and friends. When I saw this title, I knew I  had to read it. 

Because this story is written by a surgeon with first hand experience with AIS-DSD (Androgen Insensitiviy Syndrome / Differences of Sex Development), I was concerned about how clinical the story would be portrayed. What I found was a well-written Young Adult story that informs with sensitivity, and also deals with some of the usual issues pertaining to the the high school years.

None of the Above tackles both gender identity and being a teenager in the sometimes heart-breaking story of Kristin Lattimer, the girl that seems to have a perfect life until a medical diagnosis and ignorance destroy her world. 

Kristin's journey is nicely developed in the story, portraying her thoughts and emotions in a realistic manner. While she's dealing with the diagnosis, she's also dealing with real cruelty from her classmates and worse from those she thought were close friends. I thought the author did a nice job of weaving the themes of diversity and inclusion into the story of Kristin's high school experience and somehow made Kristin's story applicable to everyone in her class.  What Kristin says toward the end of the book could pertain to any young adult.

One day I would find my own place. I couldn't run there, though because it didn't exist yet; I had to build it myself, out of forgiveness, truth and terrifying gestures of friendship.

The writing is what I would expect in a debut story and although there were a few slow spots, I was willing to overlook them.  I'll be keeping an eye out for more from this author in the future. 

I'm so glad I took a chance on this book.  I really liked it, and I'm rating this book five stars because of how it informed me about gender identity. This is a book I can see reading with my teenager as a perfect discussion starter.  That's something I look for in a young adult title and None of the Above did it just right. 


ARC provided for review.

P.S. For more information, a good starting point is I.W. Gregorio's website. Be sure to check out the post, 5 Myths about #intersex -- debunked and the graphics on that page.

About the Author

I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD, she did her residency at Stanford, where she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above (Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins). She is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™ and serves as its VP of Development. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and Journal of General Internal Medicine. A recovering ice hockey player, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

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