None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Goodreads link: (click here)
What's it about?
Kristin Lattimer is a High School junior with a pretty good life. She's a popular and pretty, track star with a full scholarship to college. She's got a perfect boyfriend and she was just voted homecoming queen. She's got good friends and everyone likes her. She's definitely had her share of heartache, though, since she lost her mother to cervical cancer, but she and her father have been taking care of each other. Her life isn't perfect, but lately it seems nearly so.
When she and her boyfriend decide to take their relationship the next level, it's not as wonderful as she thought it would be. Actually, it was awful and painful. Kristin fears that there's something wrong with her, so she makes an appointment with a doctor to get checked out. At her visit, the doctor makes a shocking diagnosis. Kristin is intersex. Even though she looks like a girl on the outside, she's got male chromosomes. She also has male parts inside of her that never appeared on the outside. In other words, Kristin isn't technically male or female. She's "None of the Above".
As Kristin and her father are trying to understand and deal with her diagnosis, Kristin is faced with a much bigger problem. Somehow, the entire school discovers her secret and she's faced with bullying and public humiliation. She's lost her best friends and even her boyfriend doesn't want anything to do with her. All the same people who loved her only a few days ago have turned their back on her. People are so quick to label her with words they don't even seem to understand. She still feels like the same person she was before her diagnosis, but everyone now sees her as something different. Is she really different? What makes a person who they are? Kristin is now questioning her entire identity as she watches her world crumble around her. Luckily, there are plenty of people around who can help her. A new perspective just may be the best, and most important thing, that's ever happened to her.
None of the Above absolutely blew me away. It is brilliant, beautifully written, entertaining and probably one of the most important books written in a very long time. Not only does it shed light on a topic that is often misunderstood, but it also explores the effects of bullying on anyone, for whatever reason. I.W. Gregorio carefully and delicately uses her medical background to explain exactly what it means to be intersex. I admit, I wasn't entirely sure going into this book, but thanks to Gregorio, I learned a lot. Her skill as a writer made it informative, yet it wasn't like getting a lesson in school. She humanized the medical condition.
This is also a YA contemporary with a great story, diverse and likable characters, and an essential message about understanding, love and acceptance. Even though None of the Above features heavy topics, it's still a very positive and entertaining book. Yes, I was in tears by the end, but I felt good after reading it. As a matter of fact, I think EVERYONE should read this. EVERYONE. This should be required reading not just for school, but for LIFE. It teaches that the best thing you can do in life is try to understand people before you pass judgement on them. This entire book illustrates that we are more than just our chromosomes. We are not just bodies. We have these bodies so that we can fill them with ourselves, our personalities, our compassion and our individuality. It's up to us to choose what we fill these bodies with.
Like I said, this book is incredibly important. Please read it. I don't usually beg people to read books, but for this one, I will. Which is why I want to give other people a chance to read it, on ME.
This is the AMAZING I.W. Gregorio:
Read her book!