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Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
A Young Adult novel
Pages: 352
Genre: Queer, Contemporary

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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?
*An advanced reader's copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review*

  None of the Above was a very informative story about the struggles of Kristin Lattimer after receiving the diagnosis that she is intersex (specifically diagnosed with AIS), meaning that she was born with the XY chromosome and having both male and female reproductive organs. The book tells the journey of Kristin coming to terms not only with her identity, but with the various pitfalls of sex and gender.  None of the Above is written by a doctor who specializes in intersex patients, so while very educational, None of the Above is not the best book ever written.
None of the Above is similar to the wave of young adult books that came out in the 70's: situational, educational, and as dull as dishwater. While not the worst thing I ever read, unless you are looking for a book specifically about intersex characters, I would not bother to pick this up.  I found myself grinding my teeth a few times over the predictability of the plot.  The characters are not particularly deep, and although Kristin has some depth, it only manifests in her finding acceptance in her condition rather than her relationship with her father or friends.  The plot also suffers from being so focused on this one aspect of Kristen's life that rather than weaving the intersex diagnosis in with the rest of her life, Gregorio just dumps a bunch of subplot ideas onto the reader's lap and does nothing with them.  Don't worry too much though, because the romance survived the way a cockroach survives a nuclear blast.  I almost gave up on reading this book a few times because the romance was so boring. Nothing in this book will be surprising other than a couple of times where the writer actually talks about sex, which is fairly rare in the young adult genre. Still, there's nothing steamy so look elsewhere if you are inclined for such things in your literature.

Overall, this is a book for comfort and understanding, not enjoyment.  So I recommend None of the Above for the curious and those questioning their own gender and identity.  It's great to find books that include characters who are intersex, but I'm still holding my breath for the book with a non-binary main character instead of a book about a character who is non-binary.

A+ for effort at least