Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

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

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None of the Above
    by: I.W. Gregorio

Publication Date: Apr. 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer+Bray
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: e-ARC provided via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 352 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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?
  
 
 
This book was first put on my radar by Christy from Novel Ink and her review really encouraged me to read this one. As a high school teacher myself, I felt this would be a good opportunity to inform myself on what it means to be intersex, as well as see how the main character dealt with this change to her life. I decided to talk to Tonya from Lilybloombooks about this one, as she's my go-to girl when it comes to topics some people would feel uncomfortable discussing. I think we both had an idea as to what it meant to be intersex, but we didn't know exactly what it all entailed, so we decided to do some research on it and see what we found. Afterwards, we decided to buddy read this one together and even though we didn't read it exactly at the same time (I was the latecomer) we did discuss it after we were finished and I think we both enjoyed doing so.
 
We are both in agreement that this book was incredibly difficult to read. The bullying that occurs when the school finds out is appalling and there were times I couldn't help but read with dread in the pit of my stomach for the insults and slandering that Kristin would have to endure next. She is not only bullied in school, but also on social media as well. My heart simply broke for this young girl who was already going through a very difficult situation and struggling with gender identity.
 
I feel Gregorio did a very good job at walking us through Kristin's journey to acceptance and to present us with the facts behind what it means to be intersex. There are so many people out there that are ignorant of what this truly means and we see that firsthand in a lot of her peers' reactions and the things they spout at her. I am glad we got to see Kristin reach out to others who are intersex, so that she could see that this doesn't have to be something that defines her or changes who she is as a person. She is unable to have children, but that does not mean she cannot have kids by way of adoption. She can also still have intercourse, she just has to prepare her body by means of dilation. While she may have been born with testes, it doesn't mean she can't still live a normal life as a woman. I was grateful for the people that embraced Kristin and didn't treat her as a freak. Darren, Jessica, and Gretchen were all really positive influences for her as well as her dad.
 
Kristin's boyfriend, Sam, is the one person in this book I don't know that I could forgive. How can you claim to love someone and then treat them as if they weren't even a human being? It made me sick and I wanted to inflict some bodily harm to him on several occasions. The saddest part of Sam and Kristin's broken relationship? It's real life. Even the best people can turn their backs on you and show their ugly. I felt the same way about Vee and Faith, Kristin's best friends. They have been with one another through thick and thin for so long and yet they aren't strong enough to withstand something genetic?
 
I did have a few issues with the book, one of them being a scene that occurs toward the end of the novel and I just felt it was a bit forced and I could have done without it. We have already seen firsthand the brutality that ignorance causes, so I thought that it was too much and almost put in just as another means of showing you that Kristin is strong and can withstand anything. We have already seen that though, so I didn't feel that scene was necessary to the storyline. I also realize that this book is not meant to be a romance, so I'm curious as to why it was necessary at all. I liked Darren, but I didn't really see as much of the build up as I would have liked with them. He was sweet, but I almost felt the romantic aspect was thrown in as a means of showing everyone that Kristin was still very much female and that there were males that would be attracted to her and love her no matter what.
 
Despite a few niggling issues, I am really glad I read this one. I felt it was important to learn more about what it means to be intersex and this book really is an eye opener. I think anyone who is struggling with being different can relate to this book. There will always be hateful people out there who are ignorant and intolerant, but there are good people as well who will embrace and love you just the way you are.

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14 comments

  1. This sounds like a very interesting and tough read. Kids can be so cruel and it's great to see books be able to address such tough issues. Great review!

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    1. Yes, Sarah. It was so hard to read and I can't believe some of the things kids say to one another, but I appreciate the author being bold enough to release this one!

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  2. I also found out about this book through Christy's blog and I really want to read it! I understand what you mean about this being a difficult subject to read about but I'm glad that authors are being more diverse about what they write about especially in YA.
    This book seems like a heartbreaker because as you said, some of the ideas in this book are true so I am really interested in reading it.

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    1. I agree Lily. I like that authors aren't shying away from more difficult topics these days, because let's face it: high school isn't always crushes and romance and happy endings. These kids deal with some heavy stuff, so I think YA readers should see that. I do hope you enjoy this one- I learned a lot and I'm really glad I read it.

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  3. This book sounds like one of those books that just needs to exist to show some teens that they are not alone and to open up other peoples eyes to topics that they may not understand fully. I honestly don't know if I could read this one simply because of the bullying... I don't do well with bullying because it makes me incredibly angry and I can't always get past the anger to enjoy the book. I'm really glad you enjoyed this one though. Great review!

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    1. Absolutely Teresa. I couldn't have said it better myself. I think all teens should read this, so that they would see the cruelty Kristin faces and hopefully realize they need to watch themselves when it comes to bullying. I understand though- it was SO hard to read because my heart just hurt so very much and I was angry over the way she was treated!

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  4. I took a class on biological sex once and I learned about intersex individuals. It was really eye opening and I learned a lot. I tend to stray away from books that deal with difficult situations and this is one of them. It sounds so emotional from your review and I don't know if I could handle it all. I'm curious about the last scene though. It's frustrating when scenes come across as forced.
    Wonderful review, Jess!

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    1. I can definitely fill you in on Twitter about the last scene if you want. :) This was an interesting book in that I had no idea about intersex or what it really entailed, but wow the social/bullying aspect really hit me in the solar plexus, so I definitely understand staying away from these kinds of books. They are definitely not for everyone.

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  5. I would probably have a bit of difficulty reading this book as well. But I do like that the author chose such an out of the book concept to write about. Despite the few issues you had, I'm glad you enjoy it nonetheless. It does seem the author not only told a nice story, but educated on the theme as well.

    Lovely review!

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    1. Magen, that is why I actually decided to read this one. Being an educator myself, I felt I needed to be informed as who knows if I'll ever come across a student who is dealing with this. It wasn't a perfect book, but it was definitely eye opening.

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  6. It sounds like this book covers a really tough topic in a way that's real and sometimes painful. I'm planning on starting this one tonight!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I can't wait to see your thoughts on this one Nicole. I know you enjoy more realistic books, so I think you'll appreciate this one.

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  7. Confession: I have no idea what Intersex means...
    They sent me this one but I'm not sure if I'll read it yet...

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    1. I didn't really understand it either Nereyda, which is why I had to do some research first, but basically it's the more modern term for hermaphrodite. If you ever do read this one, you'll have to let me know. It was a hard one that's for sure.

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