Sunday, September 18, 2016

Gender Is About Clothing?!?!? Ugh | Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky Review

Stop number who-knows-at-this-point on my Quest to an Accurately Represented Transgender Character! This is starting to become painful.

Image result for gracefully graysonTitle: Gracefully Grayson
Author: Ami Polonsky
Pages: 250
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Published: 4 November 2014
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.16 stars
Book Rating: 2 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: Alone at home, twelve-year-old Grayson Sender glows, immersed in beautiful thoughts and dreams. But at school, Grayson grasps at shadows, determined to fly under the radar. Because Grayson has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body.

The weight of this secret is crushing, but leaving it behind would mean facing ridicule, scorn, and rejection. Despite these dangers, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine.

Cover Thoughts:

Prettiness wise, I love the simplicity and symbolism of this cover. I'm not a fan of yellow, but I have to admit, it's a nice shade. Problem? Well, as I'll get into later, it emphasizes the major push of gender roles in this book. That's not a great explanation, but I'm trying not to spoil the rest of the review!

Final Thoughts After Reading:

1. That was...innocent. In a good way.
2. Gah the gender roles.
3. I'm just a trans guy sitting here with nail polish on and this book is annoying.


Plot: I did "enjoy" (you know what I mean) the presence of bullying in this book. Especially in sixth grade, that's going to happen, and I'm glad it wasn't ignored like it is in some middle-grade books. I also liked the some of the friendships that come and go. There wasn't just the one supportive friend that sticks with Grayson, because, trust me, that's not how it works a lot of the time. You lose friends? You're probably going to go through a friendless period. So good job, book. Also, it was nice that there was a few other problems besides Grayson's transness. Not many, but there was (his parents/living with aunt and uncle thing). 

Most of the story focused on the play, in which Grayson was playing the lead, Persephone. I suppose that was decently done. It was just fine I guess. I don't have any opinions...

Characters: The characters? Grayson was fine. And when I say fine, I mean not awful, but I wouldn't describe her as a well-written character. I felt like her entire character could be simply described as transgender, because she's barely anything else. Besides liking theater (which doesn't happen until a good chunks way through the story) and drawing (though the idea is abandoned after the first couple chapters), Grayson had no personality. Hell, I'm not even she has any character traits besides "feminine"! I'm trans myself, and I could barely relate to her. (Does "unrelatable" count as a character trait?)

As for the other characters, they were pretty one-dimensional. They could be described as "supportive," "unsupportive," and "kinda supportive." Should I expect more from a middle-grade novel? Maybe not, but shouldn't I at least be able to relate to the fucking main character???

Writing: What can you do? This book is written for 11-year-olds! Well, it was a pretty easy read. I wasn't completely bored most of the time, and I get bored very quickly. Let's just say it wasn't anything special. It tried to be deep a times, and wasn't really. As I said before, the entire "girly doodles" thing introduced on the first page was abandoned completely and replaced by a sixth grader that can't see other people's point of view and never even bothers to explain his feelings to his family, yet we're supposed to feel sympathy for him. I know, I know, he's, like, twelve, but still. This book is about being brave. You know what's brave? Explaining your feelings to your guardians so they're not terrified for your safety. It's hard, but dammit it's worth it. Now that's a lessen I could stick behind.

Portrayal of Transness: Once again, we have a case of "gender-is-all-about-clothing." Honestly, all these books do is enforce gender roles and give people an inaccurate idea of what being trans is like. I understand that it's a lot easier to tell a child "Grayson was born a boy, but he likes dresses, so he's actually a girl" than it is to explain the entire concept of gender and dysphoria, but...why explain it incorrectly and then fix it later? Yeah, English is really complicated, but that doesn't mean we just ignore it until they're old enough. We start from a young age, introduce it in sections, and by the time they're teenagers they have a pretty decent understanding. I completely support introducing young kids about gender, but I'd rather have it done accurately. If anything, this is going to throw-off and confuse actual transgender children.

Honestly, the more I think about this book, the more times I say "ugggghhhhhhhhhhhhh." I was really looking forward to recommending this to middle-schoolers, but I guess that's not going to happen. Sigh. I wonder what the next book on my quest will be...probably If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. Wish me luck. :)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

General Life Update: Coming Out, School, Book Buying Ban, Budgeting, and Transition

Hi! You may have noticed (I mean, I doubt it, but I'm kinda hoping some people notice me once and awhile) I hadn't posted anything for about a week and a half (which is semi-abnormal for me) up until my last book haul. I thought I'd give you a bit of an update on what's going on in my life...

Coming Out

So...I came out. That's still a really strange thing to say, but it actually happened! I emailed my guidance counselor a day before school started (which was last last Wednesday, the 17th), and he contacted all my teachers and told them about my name and pronouns. Of course, since they all used Alex instead of my birth name, my classmates quickly realized something was up. Surprisingly, not many people asked questions, though a few did ask me what my pronouns were (I love those people). Almost everybody (that talks to me) has switched my name, which is awesome, but really strange. It's still so surreal. Both my parents know now, and my dad is totally cool with it, but my mom is really upset about me wanting to change my name (understandable from a parent's perspective). Neither of them know that I've come out to everyone at my school. I'm sure that'll come up at some point.


School is...happening. I've already got B's in two classes (I'm not good at homework, okay?), which is depressing considering it's only been a week and a half. Luckily, one is only an 87, which I can totally get back up. Unfortunately, the other one is an 83 and also in math, and I'm just not motivated enough to work hard in least it's an honors class, so I won't mess up my GPA, right? I've also got a 90 in English, which I'm determined to keep because of that horror story last year were I got a B in ENGLISH (luckily my exam made my average an A, thank god). And I realize that my idea of a "bad grade" is other people's unachievable goals, but I'm a perfectionist sooo..B's are evil. Like, the look of one B on a report card gives me anxiety.

Book Buying Ban

I've never been one of those people that goes on book buying bans, mostly because I don't buy that many books. Unfortunately, I've purchased about 15 books in the last month, and not only am I out of money, I also barely have any time to read. So I've decided on going on a pretty strict book buying ban.

I'm only going to buy two books for the rest of 2016. What are those books? Well, obviously, they're The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan and Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I also might buy the collector's edition of A Monster Calls when it comes out, but I may just wait until Christmas. I mean, I've already got two copies of the book. I probably don't need any more.

I'm not sure how long this book buying ban will go, but probably for awhile. I don't plan on doing any more sprees for as long as I can manage it. It might just end up being an only sequels to books I already have kind of thing.

Budgeting and Transition

Why am I try to spend less money? There's a pretty good reason for that. Throughout the last few months, I've made up my decision about transitioning (medically). I need to go on testosterone, I need top surgery, and I might want bottom surgery sometime in the future. To do this, I need money. In a perfect world, my plan is to save $150 a month in order to save $9,000 in the next 5 years, which, from my research, should probably cover the cost of testosterone (for awhile) and top surgery (but this totally depends on the surgeon). 

Because of my severe lack of a job, you might be wondering, You're 15! How the hell do you plan on saving $150 a month? If you're unaware, it's almost impossible to get a job in the US before you're 16 unless it's some job were you get paid in cash, like babysitting or yard work. Fortunately, I live right next to an amusement park which hires anybody without much thought because they need thousands of employees (it's a big amusement park, which I'm sure some of you have heard of, but you know..specific locations..), and they hire anybody 15 or older. Unfortunately, I'd get paid minimum wage, which is $8.10 an hour here (why can't I live in Seattle..), and I've heard the jobs there are pretty awful. But you know what? I need money. I want to transition as soon as possible, and that's impossible without it. Awful job? Meh. Better than having boobs.

Anyway, they start hiring next week, so I guess that'll probably happen. I hope so, at least.

(I usually try to make this interactive, but this was very personal...?) How's school going for you guys? How's life? What's a good book you just read? I don't know talk to me.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

ALL THE LGBT BOOKS | Book Haul: Spring & Summer 2016

Hello! I didn't get very many books in spring, so I thought it would be reasonable to combine my spring and summer hauls. Unfortunately, I bought a ton of books in summer, so I now have a shitload of books to show you. Yay books!

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1. Half Lost (Half Bad #3) by Sally Green

I'm honestly not sure how this wasn't in my last book haul since I had already bought it before then, but it wasn't. So here it is! My review. Yay gay! :D

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2. Sea Spell (Waterfire Saga #4) by Jennifer Donnelly

I kinda hated the last book, but I'm already three books in, and this is the last one, so might as well finish the series, right? If only I cared about what the outcome was...

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3. The Crown (The Selection #5) by Kiera Cass

YAYYY IT'S FINALLY OVER!!! I was glad this series was over when it ended the first time...then they added two books...yet I still read them. I really hope there aren't anymore. While I initially liked it, I ended up giving it 2 stars because I realized how stupid it was. Everything that I wanted to happen happened...with absolutely no consequences. Every problem was solved quickly and without any mess afterwards. It was pretty disappointing. On the bright side, surprise gay was surprising. On the...dark side, that cover is atrocious.

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4. The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan

I have started this book, but I haven't finished it yet (thanks a lot, summer reading). I loved the first 70 or so pages that I read, and I'm really excited to read the rest! Solangelo is making me so happy. Once again, yay gay!

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5. This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This book just sounds really interesting, and it has a cool cover, and I've heard there's a little gayness going on there, and it's short! I'm really excited to pick this one up...if only I had the TIME! (Thanks again, summer reading...)

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6. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

I already read this one, and I really enjoyed it. I really wish I'd read it when I was younger, though. This is one of those books that's for kids, but good for non-kids too, but it's even better for non-kids when they're reading it to a non-non-kid. I wish I had access to a child.

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7. The Marvels by Brian Selznick

I was just going to buy The Invention of Hugo Cabret, but then I saw that the one that I was looking at was signed, so I ended up buying it too. I still haven't read it, but judging by the homophobic Goodreads reviews, I bet it's going to be a good one.

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8. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series Box Set (the new one) by Rick Riordan

Yes, I finally caved in and bought the new covers. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later.. It was less than $25 on Amazon, okay? That's less than $5 a book! THAT'S AWESOME. And it's pretty.

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9. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

I had to get this book for school. I actually liked it more than I was expecting to (considering it's about as far as you can get from my preferred genre), but there were still things that annoyed me. Like the fact that there were 7 POINT-OF-VIEWS. That's ridiculous. I'm still not entirely sure which character is which. How am I supposed to take a test over this tomorrow? (This book only had one very minor gay character, and then a couple of AIDS comments happened. It wasn't super homophobic or anything, but...not great.)

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10. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

I also read this book for school, but I actually got to pick it. (Yay!) I ended up liking it way more than I thought I would. There was a little surprise burst of gay in there of which, as I'm sure you know by now, I'm quite a fan. And the writing was way better than I was expecting for a rock musician. Good job, Carrie.

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11. Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis

A lesbian romance than takes place in Iran? Yikes. But also, intriguing. I'm not sure how long it will take me to read this one (considering my TBR pile at the moment, probably not soon), but I am really looking forward to it!

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12. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

This book is about an intersex character, which is definitely a new one for me. I'm really excited as to where this book will take topics like gender, sexuality, and relationships. Also, do you see that cover? I'M IN LOVE.

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13. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

A book about a trans girl written by a trans woman with a trans girl on the cover? Yes, please! I'm really excited to read a trans book written by a trans person. I've had issues with some books portrayal of trans people (*cough*Symptoms of Being Human*cough*), so I'm hoping this one will be better than those. I'm already excited by the fact that I've heard the main character is into stuff like Star Wars and video games. While those things aren't necessarily "gendered," they're not seen as being super feminine either, which is how trans girls are very often portrayed. This one is very high up on my TBR.

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14. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This book has very very good reviews from book bloggers and reviewers, but I'm assuming most of them aren't gay, and are reading this from a sort of "outside the community" perspective. I haven't looked very hard for reviews of LGBT people, but I am hoping this one is as good as everyone says it is!

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15. George by Alex Gino

TRANS CHILDREN'S BOOK TRANS CHILDREN'S BOOK GIMME GIMME GIMME. I'm really hoping this book explains everything gender related in an able-to-be-comprehended-by-a-small-child kind of way. I want this to be an innocent portrayal of gender (which shouldn't be that hard) that I can recommend to trans children and parents of trans children and cis children (and non-children) and everyone that needs to take a hint. That seems like a simple request, but it would be difficult to pull off. I'm looking forward to reading it, and I'm going to have to review it when I do!

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16. Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

I've yet to read an LGBT memoir (unless you want to count A Work in Progress by Conner Franta, which I wouldn't even though he's gay), so I was really excited when I found a signed copy of this book at Target. (Who doesn't love Target?) I'm not sure when I'll read it, though, because...TBR issues going on over here.

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17. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I read this book back in late 2014 (the review of it was actually the second post ever on this blog, but don't read that, it's awful) and have been meaning to buy my own copy ever since. I'm not sure if I'll read it again anytime soon, considering the first time I read it, it was in audiobook format, so I think I should actually read the text too. Plus, pretty cover...and I suppose I could do for another dose of emo-gay Will Grayson.

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18. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

I checked this book out from the library last June, but I never managed to read it. Now that I've bought this physical copy, I'm hoping I'll read it...eventually. I mean, lesbian romances, not exactly high priority for me. But it's still gay so I'll read it.

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19. Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky

More trans kid's books! Hurrah! I've read about 40 pages of this so far, and I'm kind of meh on it, if I'm being honest. I know it's only been 40 pages, but it's a little slow. Not bad, just slow. My ADHD needs more fight scenes and angst, okay?

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20. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

As excited as I am to read about a trans guy (and not just trans girls for a change..), I'm really afraid that this book won't explain being trans well. From some reviews I've read, it seems that that may be the case. I'm still going to read it, if only to spread the message that this is what NOT to do!

21. Death Note Black Edition, Vol. 1 by Tsugumi Ohba

I watched the anime series for this manga back in March, and it seriously screwed me up for about a week (thank god it was spring break). So I made the wise decision of purchasing it in manga form. Who's ready for another mental breakdown? Not me!! D:

21 books (or 25 if we're counting the fact that Percy Jackson was a boxset)...I think that's the biggest book haul I've ever done. I guess it was double the time though. I say this was a win! Yay!

What books have you guys bought recently?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Double Review of The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson) by Rick Riordan with Arvenig! (Final Review of the Half-Blood Readalong)

Hello! This is the fifth and final review of the Half-Blood Readalong of Percy Jackson series hosted by me and Arvenig @ If you want more information on our readalong, you can check out our announcement post. Our giveaway has ended, and the winner was announced on Twitter (and also at the end of this post) and contacted. Thank you to everyone who entered!

Title: The Last Olympian
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book Five)
Author: Rick Riordan
Pages: 381
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Published: May 5th 2009
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.49 out of 5
Alex’s Rating: 5 out of 5
Arvenig’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Synopsis: All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos's army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan's power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

In this momentous final book in the New York Times best-selling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

What were your thoughts before reading?

Alex: This event is almost over and that means summer is almost over and I have to go back to schoollllllllll *cries*. But seriously. I was in shock that this readalong was almost over! I was so excited to read this book again. I feel like it does the whole “going out with a bang” thing spectacularly (SPOILER FOR BoO? IDK *cough*by that I mean better than The Blood of Olympus *cough*), and who doesn’t wanna read that over and over again?

Arvenig: I was excited as always, but also a little bit sad since this will be the last post (and book) of the readalong! Well my school starts the 12th of September, but well now I’ll have to actually do homework… *sigh*

What are your final thoughts after reading the book?

Alex: Now it’s actually over and everything is almost over and I don’t know how to cope. I’m honestly really really proud of myself. I’ve always been the kind of person that gives up in the middle of doing something because I get bored or frustrated, but I didn’t do that this time. I mean, I reread one of my favorite series this summer. That’s a pretty huge accomplishment for me. I’ve never reread 
an entire series before!

Arvenig: So this book surprised me a lot, maybe it’s my favourite in the series, even if the first books of a series will always have a little special space. I really liked the way it ended, SPOILER ALERT since a lot of people are mentioned from the gods to “normal” people like Rachel END OF SPOILER. I’m also happy that I started reading this series even if when I was younger I didn’t like at all the movie!

What did you think of the plot/story line?

Alex: Obviously, the difference between this book and the first four is that the characters aren’t on a quest, which is a pretty huge change. I was actually kind of sad that I remembered what all the lines in the prophecy going into this book (that wasn’t the case with The Battle of the Labyrinth), which probably made it less enjoyable. This book is just so awesome when you have no idea what’s going to happen. At the same time, rereading it felt like I had this huge secret that I was just dying to tell the characters. I feel like that’s enjoyable in its own way.

Arvenig: This time I really really really liked the story line, in fact, there’s always something you don’t expect. A lot of monsters, gods, etc. that we have maybe only seen once in the first four books are here again. During the first books, most of the times, the first part didn’t get me.

What was your reaction to the deaths in this book?

Alex: AHHHHH. I knew that I had forgotten a lot of the deaths in this book because, well, there were quite a few. It’s a war book. That’s what happens. It definitely has a different feel than the deaths in the previous books because of that. Some deaths were just casually mentioned, others that were more important to the plot were focused on more. Each one broke my heart a little more. I actually cried this time around, which I didn’t do the first time. Maybe I’m becoming less of a robot, maybe I’m more sensitive, maybe I’ve experienced more death thus I have a more personal connection to it, I’m not sure, but I know it upset me more this time.

Arvenig: Well the books always kind of sum up what happened before and this time there were more deaths than other memories from last year… I always hate when authors kill people that, for me, would live happily ever after, and the feels came again in this b
+ook… I expected some of them and some were maybe even right, but SOME OF THEM WERE REALLY UNNECESSARY.

What are your top 5 favorite quotes?

1. “‘With great power... comes great need to take a nap. Wake me up later.’”
2. [SPOILER] “‘As for my brothers,’ Zeus said, ‘we are thankful’-he cleared his throat like the words were hard to get out-’erm, thankful for the aid of Hades.’
The lord of the dead nodded. He had a smug look on his face, but I figure he'd earned the right. He patted his son Nico on the shoulders, and Nico looked happier than I'd ever seen him.
‘And, of course,’ Zeus continued, though he looked like his pants were smoldering, ‘we Poseidon.’
‘I'm sorry, brother,’ Poseidon said. ‘What was that?’
‘We must thank Poseidon,’ Zeus growled. ‘Without whom . . . it would've been difficult-’
‘Difficult?’ Poseidon asked innocently.
‘Impossible,’ Zeus said. ‘Impossible to defeat Typhon.'"
3. “We need music," Nico said. "How's your singing?"
"Um, no. Can't you just, like, tell it to open? You're the son of Hades and all."
"It's not so easy. We need music."
I was pretty sure if I tried to sing, all I would cause was an avalanche.”
4. “‘Why do you need to gallop while you fly?’
‘Why do humans have to sway their arms while they walk? I dunno boss, but it just feels
5. “The older lady harrumphed. ‘I warned you, daughter. This scoundrel Hades is no good. You could've married the god of doctors or the god of lawyers, but noooo. You had to eat the pomegranate.’”

1.  "‘I figured he would rather have his mane braided like My Little Pony than be back here again.’" 
2. "‘Woof!’ Mrs O’Leary looked up, probably wondering if we were going to play fetch with the satyr."  
3. "‘Hey, Ugly!’ Annabeth yelled. I hoped she was talking to the giant, not me."  
4. "The Lord of Time disappeared under a giant blue butt."  
5. "‘Son of Hades.’ Kronos spat on the ground. ‘Do you love death so much you wish to experience it?’‘Your death,’ Nico said, ‘would be great for me’" 

What’s your rating for this book and why?

Alex: 5 STARS because...what’s not to love? There’s death and romantic tension and death and betrayals and death and Nico (death)! While I think the Titan’s Curse is still my favorite book (in this initial series), this one is a close second (the order, if you’re wondering, is 3, 5, 4, 1, 2).

Arvenig: 4.5 out of 5 stars. I don’t why but I just can’t give it a 5 stars, but well 4.5 is very very good for me! In this book there’s more action, and everything it’s always a surprise, the reading I think it’s faster and lots of other things.

Are you going to continue with the Heroes of Olympus series?

Alex: Again??? Ahhhhh the pain. I probably will eventually. It depends who we end up seeing again in the Trials of Apollo. I do suggest that Arvenig should read it though, even if I do have some negative’s worth it. The Hidden Oracle was worth it. The fanfiction is worth it.

Arvenig: YESSS! Probably not this year I want to finish some series before that, but I’m looking forward to it!! Alex, I’ll probably read that, I’m so excited now that I finally know some Rick Riordan’s books!

How was your first time HOSTING a readalong, a giveaway, Twitter chats, etc.?

Alex: Umm..stressful? More work than I was expecting? MUCH more time consuming. I don’t regret anything though. It made me actually have to do stuff this summer, while simultaneously making me look like I’d done nothing. I also spent the first money that I ever have on my blog (in the form of postage..), which was kind of weird, but also...educational? a way. I learned how to fill out a customs form! I learned what a custom form is! It actually arrived! I don’t know. It made me talk to people. Sometimes even in the outside.

Arvenig: It wasn’t my first time hosting a giveaway, luckily. I thought, too, that it was going to be much easier. The really difficult things for me were reading with a schedule (yes I always started the books three days before the deadline) and writing a review the same day or the day after, since I usually take a week to make up my mind and write a review, in fact now I think I want to set a couple of higher ratings. I’m also so happy that I co-hosted this readalong especially that I co-hosted it with Alex, thanks for the patience! I had a lot of fun and it has been an awesome experience that also gave me lots of ideas (as some corrections in my review format).

The Twitter Giveaway

The giveaway ended today and the winner is Jodie @novellover97 that has also a blog: forthenovellovers,

Our Twitters:

Let’s talk…

What was your favourite part of the book? What was your favourite book in the series?

PS: This is Alex. I'd just like to personally thank everyone who participated in this readalong. Whether you actually read the books with us, or you just entered the giveaway, or all you've done is read this review, thank you. Seriously. We had a few ups and downs along the way, but I really loved doing this. It was an amazing experience, so thank you guys for being a part of it. And, of course, a special thank you to Arvenig for saying yes to co-hosting this event. Memories have been made. :)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Problems with Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin (Review Take Two)

Two months ago, I made a review of Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin. I gave it three stars, which, for me, isn't that bad of a rating. I liked the book! But after a couple months of consideration, I realized this book had even more issues than I previously thought. I mentioned some of them in my original review, but it wasn't until I read other reader's reviews that I really saw the issues. I really want to readdress them, and I want to share with people the problems in this book. Honestly, I want to share the problems with the AUTHOR, who, as far as I can tell, is cisgender (not trans or nonbinary), and I want him to realize the problems this book has because I'm hoping he'll write a new book that's...not as bad. Yup.

For those of you who don't know, this book is about a genderfluid teenager. I think it's worth mentioning that I am transgender. Specifically, I'm a demiguy (I partially identify as a guy, but not entirely) whose gender is also pretty fluid (it's complicated). I think I have at least some merit in discussing this.

Problem #1: The Inaccurate Representation of Dysphoria

I'm doing this one first because, well, it's probably going to take the longest.

This book represents dysphoria as something that is caused and fixed by clothing. Believe it or not, your expression/what kind of clothes you like to wear has absolutely nothing to do with gender. At all. Hell, I would be comfortable in a dress. The problem, and the reason why trans people like to dress like how their gender (stereotypically) does, is because they want to appear as that gender. Like, it's hard to pass as male while wearing a dress, which is quite unfortunate because I have a TARDIS dress that I'm in love with, but I feel like I can't wear it. I usually wear it anyway because idgaf about your bullshit.

Anyway, back to the point: THAT'S NOT GENDER DYSPHORIA. That's called being gender non-conforming, meaning that you don't dress in the stereotypical ways of your gender.

Simply, there are two different types of dysphoria (some people would argue that there's more, but I'm just going to keep it the way most people say it): social dysphoria and body dysphoria. What are these, you may ask if you don't spend enough time on that side of the internet? I'll include the definition for dysphoria too, just in case anyone's confused about what the hell I'm talking about.

Dysphoria [also called Gender Dysphoria]: an experience of discomfort or disconnect with one's assigned gender, often accompanied by a strong desire to change one's sex to better match their identity or to be called the correct gendered language. [Source] <- You can also learn more there.
Social Dysphoria: the sense of dysphoria specifically linked to social situations. It is typically caused by social assumptions relating to gender, such as gendered birth names, pronoun use, assumption of social roles, or body language. [Source] (It was slightly edited.)
Body Dysphoria: distress, discomfort, confusion, anger, sadness, or disgust experienced because a person's body doesn't match up with how they feel it should be. Certain parts of a person's body, usually primary or secondary sexual organs, face shape, body shape, etc., will cause body dysphoria. The solution is usually transition (taking hormones, getting surgeries, and the like) to help an individual feel more "at home" in their bodies. Commonly experienced among transgender people.
**Important Note: Not all transgender people experience dysphoria the same way, nor do they always experience the same types of dysphoria. Don't assume they do, please.**

Honestly, in my own opinion, it doesn't seem like Riley even experiences dysphoria, though I assume that's caused by the author not seeming to know what dysphoria even is.

Dysphoria is not something that can be cured by a dress or styling your hair in a certain way. Wanting to wear a dress or a suit or whatever has NOTHING to do with being transgender. Going back and forth between wanting to wear a dress and a suit does not make you genderfluid, wearing some kind of suit-dress hybrid does not make you androgyne, and dammit being naked does NOT MAKE YOU AGENDER. Clothes do not equal gender. Come on, guys, we're supposed to be crushing gender roles here. Ugh.

As I said before, I'm pretty sure Jeff Garvin is cisgender, meaning he has a male body and is a dude blah blah blah. I wouldn't expect him to understand what dysphoria feels like, but I also wouldn't expect him to write a book about a gender fluid character. On his website, he said he did a lot of research. My question is, did his research involve any actual genderfluid people? Did somebody with dysphoria approve of this??? 

Dysphoria is not something that is easily dealt with. The sheer amount of times I've burst out crying (with my luck, usually in the middle of a test that's going to decide whether or not I'm allowed to live) because I looked in the mirror or was called a girl or looked down at my chest and went wtf is that weird fatty shit doing there? is pretty insane.

Or maybe the problem is actually caused by the next problem, which was a pretty major mistake if you ask me.

Problem #2: Riley doesn't have a biological sex/assigned gender at birth, does have a gender-neutral birth name, and also looks completely neutral without really trying

Well, okay, they probably do, but it's unknown. For the whole book. This, in theory, is actually a pretty interesting idea *cough*that's totally been done before but whatever*cough*, but it really didn't work for one key reason: dysphoria. 

Body dysphoria relies on uncomfortable body parts. Social dysphoria relies on not being able to pass. How the hell am I supposed to relate to Riley when they don't even have to try to pass? I mean, I have short hair and wear clothing from the guys section and bind my chest and put a sock in my underwear (it's called packing, google it) and lower my voice, but do you think I pass? Fuck no. It's not that easy. Despite what Mulan has taught you, cutting your hair and wearing guys clothing is not all it takes to look like a dude.

Names and pronouns...that's a huge part of dysphoria. I would've loved to have been given a gender-neutral name at birth, but I wasn't. I had to change mine, and explain it to all of my friends and family and random people in the grocery store. Passing wearing only gender neutral clothing and an androgynous haircut? Forget about it. Everyone knows I was assigned female at birth just by glancing at me. I would kill to be in Riley's position. That's...really not an exaggeration.

Problem #3: The Absence of "They" Pronouns

From the authors perspective, I actually understand this one (editors are the worst, trust me I've had intense grammar fights with a few of them), but it still pisses me off. Whether you like it or not, there are people in the world that use "they/them/their" pronouns. It's a pretty excepted way of addressing someone who is neither male nor female, since it's already a word in the English language.

It's also worth pointing out again that this second definition is a thing:
Riley always referred to people they didn't know the name of by "he or she," which not only got annoying, but was also completely unnecessary. "They" pronouns exist. Hey look! I've been using them this whole time for Riley! I also have a ton of friends that use "they" pronouns. I'm still pretty iffy on whether or not I should tell them to read this book considering it completely ignores their pronouns. You don't need to say that they're grammatically correct, but at least acknowledge that there are people in the world that use them.

Problem #4: Lack of Other Nonbinary Genders

I don't think I saw one other gender besides male, female, and genderfluid. Just...what? Sorry? I exist? I have friends that also exist? (I mean, I think so.) It's like, yeah lets talk about nonbinary genders! What do you mean there's more than genderfluid?

Yet another reason I hesitate before recommending this book to a nonbinary friend...there's a good chance their gender's not here. I mean, I don't expect you to mention every gender known to Tumblr, but at least mention a couple? Agender? Androgyne? Demigender? Bigender? Genderflux? ANYTHING?!?!?!? If you're going to be inclusive with gender...please include more than just genderfluid. Thanks. Appreciate it.

Problem #5: Genderfluid Inaccuracies

I'm not trying to say that Riley's type of genderfluidity isn't a real one - it totally is, but it's not the only one. Ahem, hello! Once again, I exist! Ha. Ha. Ugh.

Genderfluid people aren't necessarily people that are sometimes female and sometimes male. Actually, I've yet to meet someone who's like that, but I've heard they exist. Many (if not all) of the genderfluid people I've talked to go through more than two genders. Some go between male, female, and an in-between gender or two. Some go throughout all the genders. Others, like me, only go through certain genders. For me, that's neutral/genderless sometimes, male, and the genders in-between. For others, it might be something totally different. But that's still being genderfluid. What goes into being genderfluid? Having a fluid gender. You're welcome.

Back to the problem - Riley is only ever male or female. Sure, it might get a little confusing if your main character is switching between several genders, but hey, that's my life. I found it kind of sad that so many people now think that that's the only way genderfluidity can work, when it's really not. Honestly, people saying how much this book taught them broke my heart. Please don't use this book as your only source of information! PLEASE!

So what would I rate this book now? Well, I kind of want to give it one star just for failing to accurately represent trans people or nonbinary people or genderfluid people. I feel like dysphoria is a big part of any book with a trans character...and this one failed miserably, but I'm going to give it two stars. Mostly because I actually liked the characters and the writing and all that (except for a few Doctor Who inaccuracies that I broke down in my previous review). With all the other issues, I don't even think it's necessary to mention how unlikely the plot is, but that's just me being picky.

Would I recommend this book? I'm not sure. I want to encourage books with nonbinary main characters (and LGBT books in general), but I also want them to be accurate. This book fails in many key ways that are pretty vital to a book with a trans character, but is it a bad book? No. I kind of want you to read it so more books with trans characters become a thing, but I also want you to realize that this isn't how it works for most (if not all) transgender/nonbinary people. At all. I don't know if that was helpful or not.

What did you think of this book? Are you going to read it? Do you think my problems with it are valid? Do you agree or disagree? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

PS: Please share this post if you liked it! I really want people to know that this is NOT how it works, and that's it's a hell of a lot more complicated than that. So many people said that this book taught them a lot about being genderfluid, and I want people to know that it taught them wrong in many ways. It's important.