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I Belong


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

None of the AboveTitleNone of the Above

AuthorI. W. Gregorio

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: April 7, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 532 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062335316 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062335319 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin

Synopsis:

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?

Quick & Dirty: A provocative, engaging novel that left me thinking for days afterward.

Opening Sentence: Dawn is my favorite time of day.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Kristen has got it all figured out. Despite the gaping hole left by her mother’s death from cancer years ago, she’s managing to recover and thrive. She’s a beautiful, popular all-American girl with a scholarship for track and an amazing boyfriend – so amazing, in fact, that she’s ready to take it to the next level with him. But something goes painfully awry that leads her to go get checked by a doctor, where she discovers she’s intersex.

Though she has the appearance of a girl, her chromosones are male, and she’ll never be able to have her own children. Before she’s even given a chance to process it, the school finds out, and she is left doubting her own identity as a stream of hateful comments and nasty rumors cause her to hide in her home. Suddenly, Kristen is losing everything – her track scholarship, her boyfriend, her every friendship.

The whole concept of being intersex was a super complex one, and I thought that the author (a surgeon) managed to convey well. She truly showed every angle, in a way that was thought-provoking and interesting. I hadn’t known much about this before, and now I feel fully informed in the subject, because she covered all the bases. She allows us to empathize with Kristin and her sudden discovery, and watch as it affects her. I liked how although she showed that being intersex was not without its risks (bullying, hate crimes, depression, possible cancer risk), she also proved that those who were could lead perfectly normal lives.

Kristin was an awesome character. She had just the right mix of strength and all of those vulnerable emotions that made her relatable. I truly connected to her and how she was feeling, and felt her pain and awkwardness at the whole situation. She started out doubting everything she ever knew about herself, and for awhile, she hated her stomach, her running style, everything she had been so proud of before. As time went on and she forged new friendships, she grew stronger and began to accept herself as a real girl, no matter her chromosones. The love story was also super cute and I loved the message the author conveyed with it.

Altogether? I really enjoyed this book. I flew through it super quickly. It was incredibly unique and addressed something that’s never been addressed in a YA book before. The characters were complex, interesting, and relatable. Kristin’s voice was believable and I really enjoyed her character. There were multiple storylines going on in this book at the same time – her mother’s death and how it affected her, her relationship with the love interest, her self-pity, her accepting herself, her father-daughter relationship, her friendships . . . I enjoyed them all. I definitely think that this novel has made me more aware of the problems that intersex people face in bullying and hate crimes, and just intersex in general. Reading this book, I felt that the author themselves could have had this condition, the emotions felt so raw and real. I would recommend this, for sure!

Notable Scene:

He turned to me, pointing his index finger at my mouth. “You stay away from me, you hear?”

“Oh, no, are you breaking up with your boyfriend, Sammy? Maybe I can make it up to you tonight.” Bruce gave Sam the goose and Sam elbowed him in the neck. “Ooh, come on, baby . . . “

His friends walked toward the gym, and as Sam turned to follow, I grabbed at his arm again. This time, when he pulled away, a thread of his sweater caught in his fingernail. He rounded on me. I could feel the muscles in his arm spasm.

“Sam, please. . . ” I begged. “Let me explain.”

“What the fuck is there to explain?” Sam said. His eyes were bright, like there were tears hovering in his eyes. He leaned in, and I allowed myself to hope that he was going to listen. But instead he just whispered, “I thought I loved you, you fucking man-whore. And you’ve been lying to me. I have nothing to say to you. Ever. Again.”

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FTC Advisory: Balzar+Bray/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of None of the Above. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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