Thursday, January 25, 2018

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

Title: None of the Above
Author: I.W. Gregorio
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 328
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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? 

Krissy has it all. She is a track star, the homecoming queen, and she has the most amazing boyfriend and best friends. But one day, what should be a normal trip to the gynecologist changes her life forever. Krissy discovers she is intersex. She has androgen insensitivity syndrome, meaning that she has XY chromosomes, but she has lived her whole life as a female.

I feel that I should note that I am a cisgendered female before I begin this review. I have no experience with what Krissy is going through, so I cannot claim whether her story is accurate or not. However, it is clearly obvious throughout the book that it was written by someone who has also never had these experiences. I.W. Gregorio is a doctor who has worked with numerous intersex teens, so there is a lot of great information present. But the story itself feels forced and like it was trying to fit into a typical contemporary novel mold

Plot-wise, this was a very standard, teen's-life-gets-turned-upside-down-but-then-she-meets-a-boy-and-everything-is-good-again type of story. You could see the ending coming from a mile away. I don't need intrigue in my contemporaries, so this was ok with me. I liked the boy a lot, so I didn't mind too much. I did have a problem with the fact that suddenly everything in Krissy's life was fine again when a boy liked her. That is one of my most hated tropes of all time. That is not the way life works and I hate it when books and movies put that ideal on such a pedestal.

Boring plot development aside, the biggest problem with this book is the repeated use of slurs towards intersex, trans, and really any LGBT people. Krissy has a discussion with her doctor about what intersex really means and what slurs should not be used to describe those with AIS. Yet Krissy immediately starts using those slurs against herself, telling others those slurs and letting them think it is ok to use them, and using those slurs against others with AIS. She is horribly transphobic and repeatedly makes derogatory comments about trans people.

And now for the saddest part. I don't do this often, but I really feel the need to include a trigger warning for this book. Suicide is joked about multiple times throughout the book and sexual assault is used as a plot device for the main character to have an "epiphany" about herself. In addition to the large amount of sexuality-related slurs, this book could be really harmful to someone who is questioning their identity (or really to anyone in general).

It was really sad to see a book that was meant to be enlightening and encouraging go so wrong. Do I think this book is important? Yes. Intersex is not a term we see very often and I definitely think more people should read about it. This valuable information is the only thing that brought up my rating slightly. Can I recommend that people read this book? Maybe. Take my warnings into consideration and read this story with a grain of salt. Learn about intersex and AIS from it, but don't treat it as a comprehensive guide to the intersex experience.