Monday, June 1, 2015

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

Title- None of the Above.
Author- I. W. Gregorio.
Publish date- April, 2015.
Publisher- Balzer + Bray.



Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
In incredibly simplistic form, this is the story of a young woman whose life is well and truly rattled when she finds out she is intersex, and the battles she must fight when she meets, face on, the prejudice of others who are too ignorant to understand.
Though of course, it’s much more than that.

What I thought:
I am passionate about the way books like None of the Above are being written, published and discovered by readers. To have novels appearing that support and encourage diversity and show the struggles, truths and lives of anyone who might be seen as a minority, it’s an important movement and a very much needed one.

None of the Above tells the story of Kristin, a girl whose life is starting to fall apart after she learns she is intersex. It changes her perspective on practically everything: who she is, who she identifies as, who she is seen as. What she is worth. How she is loved. How she can love. I knew a bit about what being intersex meant before starting, but this still highlighted what a confusing struggle it likely is for so many of the people diagnosed. I think it’s really fantastic how this book encourages people to learn, though- to a lot of people this is undoubtably new to them, and the story of Kristin feels not only real and genuine, with pain and trials faced and to face that give a unique perspective and promote understanding and positive acceptance, but it is a unique experience. We see just how hard it is for Kristin when people judge and harass her, and I hope it makes people more understanding and kinder, if they were ever faced with a situation in which they could choose to harass or support.

We learn quite a lot about what the details and specifics of the AIS spectrum of intersex mean, but it never strayed into info-dumping or went overboard, for me. I was glad to learn what new information I could, and what Kristin was presented/researched felt like a reasonable amount.

Now, if you ever thought it would be, this was not an easy going book. Kristin’s own shock and disgust at her diagnosis was difficult, if understandable in it’s way, but when the news spread around her school it was horrible. So few people gave her support and so many turned against her and were all out bullies.
Kristin had hardly any support aside from her father, though this is partly because she pushed away, and I really, truly felt for her. It was horrifyingly clear how ignorant the people who cussed her were, and that made it harder for her- to live, to understand what being intersex meant, to keep going. I was unable to believe the way she went back again and again to Sam, her boyfriend at the beginning of the book; his behaviour was beyond unacceptable, and though he did truly terrible things, was really hurtful when he found out, Kristin would have forgiven him. She blamed herself for what he did, and I couldn’t accept that. (Spoiler)- especially not when it turned out he must have been the one to start the bullying.

Lastly, Kristin’s own attitude was less than positive and I wished she would be less judgmental, not only of herself and other intersex people (this is where I particularly loved Gretchen) but of other people in general- she made a huge deal out of a friend’s behaviour, wanted to make her squirm, but her own actions in the situation had been out of line. She needed to apologise, too, and she didn’t see that at all, so hung up on the other person having done wrong was she.

Rating: Ooh, very good.
I really enjoyed this. It was informative, genuine (in good and bad) and I read through it in a flash. I can imagine I’d have loved it twice as much if it’d been fantasy, though perhaps that wouldn’t have been so effective.


17 comments:

  1. Right on, I've been looking to introduce some diversity into my reading, and this seems like just the kind of book I was looking for! I admit I don't really understand what it means to be intersex, and that's really the best reason for me to read this.

    btw, let me know if you plan to reschedule the Skype meet!

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    1. This would definitely be a good place to start, I imagine! I hope it is enjoyable and informative for you, Aylee! I'll be really interested to see what you think about it.

      Sure thing! I'll be sending you an email later today! xx

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  2. Still a little confused about intersex, but I've read far too many fantastic reviews of this book to ignore it.

    Great review, Romi!

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    1. I thikn that's a brilliant reason *to* read this, Joy, simply to learn more about what being intersex means and how it migth be to live with. I didn't go into it a great deal, but I hope when you read this you'll come out with a clear understanding. Thanks so much, Joy! xx

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  3. I'm glad you liked this one, Romi! It absolutely and completely broke my heart - the way people reacted to Kristin after they found out she was intersex. And the sad thing is that it wasn't all that hard to imagine that people DO react like that. People's cruelty can be boundless.

    I find it interesting that you said you wished it had been fantasy! I actually really believe that we need more LGBTQIA+ non-contemporary books, although I can see why they are so popular in the contemporary context.

    I really hope that this recent rend of traditionally publishing LGBTQIA+ books for the YA genre continues, because it's so important for so many reasons. One of them being learning - like you did in this book. It's wonderful.

    Great review ^.^

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    1. I'm so glad I chose to get a copy instead of having it on my tbr for months and never getting to it. It was horrible, wasn't it? And you're right. It felt so damn real, her pain and the awful way people turned on her. Bullying really gets to me and I was so horrified by it in this. Probably *because* it felt so real.

      Absolutely. I suppose if you read about a character who is intersex or transgender or asexual in a fantasy novel, though, you're not certain how much is real and how much is fantasy, whereas if you read it in contemporary you have more of an assurance that this is real. But if we could get the truth and transfer it into novels of different genres, that would be splendid. I really hope it happens more and more, that this trend with publishing books that are diverse in character culture, race, gender identity and sexuality only continues to grow but to expand, also.

      Thank you so much, Chiara! xx

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  4. I'm so happy you liked this one as much as I did Romi! I definitely loved the overall story in this one and the educational purpose it's served as well.

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    1. Aw, thank you Lily! x
      I'm thrilled that it wasn't a disappointment to me. I mean, I'm not the biggest fan of contemporary, so I could have liked it mroe if it was a different genre, but really it's a wonderful novel. I really hope it helps educate readers! xx

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  5. I totally want to read this sometime. I love learning about things in books, and tbh, I don't know much about being intersex. And if it's written so excellently? SIGN ME UP. *dashes to goodreads*

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    1. Oh yay, Cait! I'm really glad to hear you're already interested in this. It's so interesting to see how much this book is educating readers, and I hope you read it and come away with knowledge and a clear understanding of what being intersex is and can be. xx

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  6. I know this is going to crush my heart, but I so really want to read this, especially seeing how INFORMATIVE it is. Right now I know nothing about being intersex, so I hope that changes soon! AWESOME REVIEW ROMI!

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    1. Oh, I'm so very glad to hear that, Val! I really hope this is an ace read for you and you come away knowing much more about what being intersex is and means. It's so well told and such an important thing, I believe, to understand and be able to be there and be supportive of the people who need that support.
      Thank you so much! xx

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  7. I felt so much for Kristin, too! I wanted to hit every single person who hurt her, who judged her and who turned their backs on her. Deadly Darlings

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    1. The rest of my comment got eaten up, sorry! Anyway, I just said that I love how intersex was explained in an interesting and non info-dumpy way, and that I was glad you loved this too! :)

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    2. Aah, frustrating!

      Yes! I had a small background of knowledge and was a touch worried that it would come across as being an information overload, such that wasn't believable and took from the story- I'm so glad that wasn't the case, not at all. I never felt like the author or Kristin was being presented or presenting the reader with too much information, and I'm so glad that this book is available to readers who might really need it, personally or just so they can understand. xx

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  8. I'm also loving all the diverse and important YA contemporary reads lately. I also loved learning everything and becoming more informed in a way that didn't seem in your face or like you said, like info-dumping. Glad you like this as much as I did!

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    1. It's so fantastic that this is a movement that is happening right now, isn't it? I really liked that, too, how she did her own research and was supported by her father and doctor. It felt so real, like that process was actually happening right there and then, and that was truly touching. xx

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Have a beautiful day.x