Book Talk: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Book Talk: None of the Above by I.W. GregorioNone of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Published by Balzer & Bray on April 2015
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Amazon/Twitter
Goodreads

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

Kristin is pretty much your normal high school girl — well-liked and popular (even got crowned homecoming queen), has lots of friends, has a scholarship to college all lined up and has a boyfriend she’s pretty serious with. She decides to have sex with her boyfriend but it doesn’t go as planned so she makes an appointment with the lady doctor just to make sure everything is okay. She finds out that she’s intersex, a revelation that she can’t even begin to grasp, and before she has time to really come to terms with it herself, the news gets out and everyone at school knows.

a2*contemplates tweeting the author to ask what happens for the rest of Kristin’s life because I’m WAY TOO INVESTED*

a4

I love reading for a bajillion and one reasons but two of those reasons are to feel things and also to learn something and/or challenge my thinking. None of the Above ticked both of those boxes.

1. I was glad to learn about what being intersex means and was appreciative for a diverse read that featured it: Truthfully, I had no idea what intersex was before I started this book. Once I learned, from the book, what intersex was I realized I knew what it meant but I had known it by another name, a derogatory one. I was grateful already to be clear on what intersex is and what it isn’t. I.W Gregorio did a great job explaining it as we watch Kristin herself learn exactly what it means and what it means for her life.

2. I loved the exploration of identity in it: I appreciated so much this story of self-identity and how movingly written it was. Kristin had a sense of self identity before she’s told she’s intersex and afterwards she really struggles to know who she is. Is she a girl like she feels she is? Is she a boy because she does have male parts? She lives 17 years of her life and in one instant she feels like she no longer knows herself as a very basic, to most, component of her identity is no longer what she thought. I mean, you could FEEL the kind of confusion and upheaval this created for her  — even when people tried to explain to her she’s still the same person. And it went beyond just the identity of male/female — she can no longer, at her core, be the same person she was but it was moving how she discovered and rediscovered herself in many ways with an admirable strength and the support of people in her life.

3. THIS BOOK MADE ME FEEL THINGS SO HARD: Okay, so I physically could feel the shock and the confusion and the anguish through the initial doctor’s appointment where she found out and then after when she was trying to process it. I mean, I felt it in my heart and I just wanted to hug her. And that would be hard enough to process? BUT OH WAIT. PEOPLE FIND OUT AND THEN ACT REALLY SHITTY AND BULLY HER. I was seeing RED, guys. I mean, I was gripping this book so hard because of how MAD I was that I’m surprised it didn’t crumble in my hands. Everyone is SO awful to her. SO AWFUL. I wanted to cry so many times. They were cruel and the thing that killed me is I know how realistic it would be. I could the fear and the ignorance bring people to say all sorts of things like tell her she’s a dude and says she’s gay and just really have no FREAKING clue what they are talking about. None of the Above definitely showed how people are so hateful towards things they don’t understand. Thankfully there were some really great characters to make up for the ones who I wanted to punch in the face.

There was so much to appreciate about this novel but I will say that I wasn’t a fan of the romance, while cute, because it just detracted to me. I mean, thankfully it wasn’t an overshadowing plot point and it was great for Kristin to see that there ARE people out there that won’t be like her ex-boyfriend about it but I was more enjoying her personal journey with learning she was intersex and would have personally preferred no romance.

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ story, the main character Kristin, the feels, important topic
–  didn’t love the romance addition

Re-readability: I don’t know that I would. Picky with my rereads!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Not for my own personal collection (you know I only keep faves or books I would reread) but I am ABSOLUTELY checking to make sure my local library’s YA section has it and if they won’t order it I would totally buy it to donate because it’s IMPORTANT.

a5people looking for diverse voices, contemporary YA readers who like issue books that don’t feel heavy-handed, readers looking for a story about identity and self-discovery. I would also recommend to teachers and youth librarians because it’s excellent but also you need to make sure it’s in your collection!

a8I.W. Gregorio’s None of the Above is a powerful story that I wish all teens would read so that they’d learn to be more empathetic and less judgmental towards what they don’t understand/they see as different..and obviously to learn what intersex is. None of the Above brings a diverse and important voice to the YA scene through Kristin and her story — a story that will have you feeling an array of emotions and reflecting on self-identity.

review-on-post-it

None of the Above by IW Gregorio

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Have you read any other books with an intersex character?

 

 


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I’ve had my eye on this one! I didn’t really know what intersex was (besides a random Grey’s Anatomy ep.) until a few weeks ago in one of my college classes. There’s really so much controversy surrounding intersex people that it seems ridiculous. My class presented it by looking at intersex athletes and the Olympics, so I really want to read a first person account, even if it is only fictional. Glad to hear you liked it so much! On the romance: do you think it would’ve been a lot more powerful/empowering if Kristin didn’t pursue another romance in the course of the book, or do you think that it served to prove something?

    • YES they did talk a bit about intersex in relation to the Olympics and athletes (because Kristin is also an athlete). I had heard debates about this sort of thing before I knew the proper term was intersex. Makes me sad that unknowingly I used the slur terms when talking about it.

      I don’t know if I’d say MORE powerful/empowering because it wasn’t in the forefront but I think it distracted me because I don’t think it needed to be there. Like I felt like “does she really need validation from a dude to like her SO quickly?” I mean, when you’ll read it you’ll see that it wasn’t the focus but idk I just remember feeling conflicted about if I thought it should be in there. I’ll be really curious to hear what you think!!

  2. I’ve seen quite a few reviews of this one floating around the blogosphere, and I LOVE the concept (plus: yay for diversity!!). Actually, I have a friend who’s intersex, so I think I’ll pass this one on to her once I’ve picked up my copy as well – it looks like a great and informative read. Thank you so much for the lovely review, Jamie! x

    • I hope you and your friend will enjoy it! I’ll be curious to know especially what your friend thinks if it’s accurate in portrayal. I know the author is in the medical field so from that standpoint I felt like she really got things right.

  3. This one is new to me, but it sounds SO good! I love books that explore subjects that make typically make people uncomfortable and help teach an important lesson on tolerance. I will definitely be looking at this one a little more closely.

  4. Great review! I highly enjoyed this book and I find it to be an important piece of literature for young readers. I put a request on this for my local library to get it (most of the books are in English and they order English YA only on request) just because I want to make Finnish teen readers aware of this awesome book.

    Great review – thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  5. I have read quite enough reviews for this one to know it’s a book I must read and then spread the word about, because I feel it’s extremely important to know and learn and be able to not judge inadvertedly or even worse, be using a derogatory name because you don’t know of the proper name!
    I plan to get this one from BoW signed in one of their events!
    My only concern now it’s the romance, I agree with you that we don’t always need romance added to the books, but we’ll see what I think of it when I read it.
    Great review Jamie!

  6. I’m not sure when I’ll get to this one (or it I will to be honest) because my to read pile blew up this month BUT I am so intrigued by this one and even more so now that I know you really enjoyed it. I keep thinking of Middlesex when I see None of the Above being talked about but it feels like this one might be a lot more nuanced and thoughtfully handled than Middlesex so hopefully I’ll be able to check it out (eventually anyway!).

    • It’s not a perfect book but it does write about intersex conditions (and engage with biological determinism) waaaaaaaaaaaay better than Middlesex (an admittedly low bar). Unlike Eugenides, Gregorio has actually done her research. (I do wish she’d incorporated some of the information from her afterword to the novel into the novel itself, but that’s another thing entirely.) Ugh. Middlesex.

  7. Ah, totally good idea to check and see if the local library has it! I want to do that too – I also think it’s a really important book and would love for it to reach as many interested teen readers as possible. Maybe I’ll see if the local LGBT Center needs a copy as well. Anything that asks readers to complicate the ways they think about sex, gender, biology and/or sexuality is freaking awesome in my book. I liked it as well – liked Kristin’s voice and her exploration of her own identity (I did want more from the supporting characters, though, and maybe some more development of her friendships and major relationships).

  8. Ahhhhh!! I need to read this one!!

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