Tuesday, December 15, 2015

None of the Above - by I.W. Gregorio

My rating: 

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. (Goodreads)

I'm always keeping an eye out for new LGBT+ themed books that make it to my library and None of the Above caught my eye because I hadn't ever read a book with an intersex character before, much less a protagonist who is intersex. I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book and kept going back between four and five stars. On the one hand, this book is so important because it's one of a relatively small number of books that deal with the reality of being born intersex. On the other hand, it's not the type of book I normally read. In the end, I went with four stars, but I really do think everyone should read None of the Above.

The protagonist, Kristin, is your typical, popular teenage girl. She's got popular friends, a wonderful boyfriend, a track scholarship to college, and she's just been chosen as homecoming queen. Overall, life is pretty great. Krissy has also decided that she's ready to take things to next level with her boyfriend, but her first time doesn't go at all the way she planned. Just to be safe, she makes an appointment with the gynecologist and is shocked to be diagnosed as intersex.

Krissy's reaction to her diagnosis is what really sold this book for me. Krissy is just an average teenage girl and her response to her situation felt authentic. She really struggles to accept what's going on and at times she seems pretty immature, but for me, that made the book seem more realistic. I don't normally read contemporary YA about high school drama, which is partially why I gave the book four stars, but I also think the genre works really well in None of the Above. In this case, the high school drama helps remind you that Krissy is just a popular girl trying to get through her senior year. She wants to be thinking about gossip, boys, track practice, and college plans. Instead, she's forced to think about what it means to be intersex and if she can even consider herself to be a girl anymore.

This book is also great in that it's very educational. Even if you're not familiar with the term intersex you will learn what it means along with Krissy and her dad who deals with the situation by doing obsessive research online. Aside from being an author, Gregorio is also a surgeon so the actual medical diagnosis is explained very well. I.W. Gregorio is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books as well, and if you haven't checked out this group, you definitely should!

On a related note, there actually are several other YA books that deal with the intersex experience. I wasn't aware of any until I did some research after reading None of the Above, but they are out there! I haven't read any of these, but if you're interested these are some of the YA books I came across:

Golden Boy: A Novel - by Abigail Tarttelin
Double Exposure - by Bridget Birdsall
Pantomime and Shadowplay - by Laura Lam
Annabel: A Novel - by Kathleen Winter
Alex as Well - by Alyssa Brugman

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