Saturday, April 2, 2016

None of the Above (A Book Set in High School)

Pro: A solid look at an issue you may not have heard about
Con: No one ever punches Bruce in the face

Bottom Line: An excellent story and the kind of book you feel may help some folks and enlighten others.

Our Children's Lead decided to make a list of LGBTQ books to display for teens one day. But when we needed that space for other books, we had to take it down. Have I mentioned that I'm no longer a Children's Lead at work? I'm a Merchandise Manager now. And guess what?

When I had some empty display space, I put that sucker right back up.

I kept walking past it and finally paused to read just what this one was about. And of course, we all know what happens when I do that. I basically just end up reading the book.

Kristin Lattimer is a track star. She's got a boyfriend. And she's about to be named Homecoming Queen. Life is pretty awesome and she's feeling so great she's decided she's going to take things to the next level with her boyfriend. Except things are not what she expected. At all. Her concerns bring her to the doctor's office where she discovers something she never, ever expected. She's intersex – on the outside she looks female, but she has male chromosomes as well as a few additional "parts." Handling such a life-changing fact is hard enough, but even the people you trust can betray you as suddenly the entire school knows – and the result is not pleasant. Kristin isn't sure anymore about who she is and if she can keep going with her once normal life.

Fun fact: this is I.W. Gregorio's first novel and was inspired by a patient she had that was, in fact, intersex, otherwise known as Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS). She wondered about how that girl's life may have played out, and decided to create a novel that examined such issues.

Frankly, I think she did a damn fine job. It doesn't surprise me at all that, even in 2016, people would flip out in ways that a lot of Kristin's classmates did over her condition. Which is some serious bullshit considering she was born that way and was basically at the mercy of her body and the way it handled itself before birth and so on. (here's a super quick link of info for you if you like about AIS). It's annoying to read about even if it's fiction because that kind of crap happens all the time in real life. I'm one of those folks that just thinks, "How do you people not understand by now? Biology is weird. Shit happens. Get over yourself – and why do you care about someone else's super-personal issues anyway?"

But I digress. Kristin is female, despite her XY chromosomes stating otherwise. But she has a really hard time coping and figuring things out. She worries that her running scholarship might be taken away, as the thought of her being male gives her an unfair advantage (as other athletes with AIS are mentioned in the book had similar issues – real people, by the way). She's turned on by people she never believed would turn on her. But luckily she finds comfort in unexpected places, and in the end, simply needs to figure out how to turn off the rest of the world (a difficult feat for most teenage girls) and focus solely on herself.

I admit, as I read, I was a little hard on Kristin about her handling of the situation. Not so much about the AIS – that's a pretty big twist in your life – but about how people treated her afterwards. How she basically folded like a wet paper cup under people's eyes and assholishness. I'm the type that, while I wouldn't ever say I'm outgoing, didn't take people's stupid shit either. I once had some guy try and make fun of the cheap brand of jeans I was wearing and I stared him dead in the eye and said, "Yeah. So?" with a look that clearly said, "They're pants, asshole. Who the fuck cares what brand they are?" Not a peep out of him after that. But Kristin was high on life in every way possible before people flipped like a dog suddenly gone rabid, so it's more understandable that she would want to bail. Though I still wish things would have turned around sooner so she would go back to school that that "Yeah. So?" attitude and put a few people in their places.

And Bruce needed to get slapped in the face by Vee or something. I always desire comeuppance when it comes to awful people.

Give it a read. Even if you're not in high school like I am. People have tough times everywhere, and maybe it can give you some insight into the kind of world other people have. Besides, it's 2016 – there's no need to be a jerk.


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