None of the Above by I.W. Gregario Review: Diverse Everything

August 17, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

None of the Above by I.W. Gregario Review: Diverse EverythingNone of the Above by I.W. Gregario
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7, 2015
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Young Adult, LGBT
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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?

Looking for a diverse book? None of the Above ticks all of the boxes – feminism, sexuality, gender identity, and what it means to be a hermaphrodite. Now I thought being a transsexual and hermaphrodite were the same thing, but this book surely opened my eyes to what it meant to be intersex – or a female, with male reproductive organs.

It starts off quite deceivingly, with Kristin being crowned the Homecoming Queen with her popular boyfriend. Soon after, Kristin finds out she has male testicles – that she’s intersex. I’m not quite sure why it took her so long to find out – along with other bodily irregularities – she never had her period, which would definitely be a cause for concern. Kristin’s doctor is pretty straightforward about her diagnosis, and refers her to support groups. She was a bit questionable though and later in the book, talks about another teenager’s problems vividly. What happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?

“I almost laughed out loud, almost told her that yes, I had a problem: I had fucking testicles instead of ovaries, and when was she going to do something about it?”

Now it was really great to see Kristin’s dad being supportive, searching for groups and doing research online. It was quite graphic in the anatomical and medical areas but it also dealt with the topic really sensitively, and definitely portrayed an intersex diagnosis realistically.

Psychologically, Kristin dealt with it in the best way she could – with absolute shock and confusion for what that means about her gender identity. She slowly explored what being an intersex person meant – identifying what it means to be female and finding out that she’s not transsexual (which is when you’re in the body of the opposite gender which you identify with).

“Screw that gender essentialism bullshit. Men have as much of a right to care about clothes as women. Girls can like sports and cars and guns too. So why does it even matter if you identify as a girl, a boy, or as neither?” 

The bullying in this book really broke my heart. People were afraid of what they didn’t know, and they conveniently fell back on stigma to try and come to terms with it. Every single person who Kristin knew at school was completely and utterly mean. They called her names, they bullied her, they posted mean photos of her on Facebook and they doled out hate. It was terrible. Even worse was Kristin’s ‘best friends’ who isolated her in her time of need, and her boyfriend who pretty much broke up with her and publicly humiliated her after finding out about her status.

Throughout all of this, Kristin managed to stay strong in the best way you could. Now imagine someone telling you the most life shattering news, that all of your hopes and dreams would fade away with a single diagnosis. With all that considering, she did a pretty good job and dealt with it in a realistic and enviable manner.

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None of the Above is an incredibly diverse book that opened my eyes to the intersex population and what it meant to be one. It showed how cruel people could be when they didn’t understand, but that you also need the right support network to help you get through it. While the bullying, isolation and hate in the book was pretty terrible, it does a good job of educating us without prejudice. Definitely a great diverse read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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The author is actually one of the main drivers behind the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and she’s done wonderfully with spreading the word and writing a relatable diverse story.

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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59 responses to “None of the Above by I.W. Gregario Review: Diverse Everything

  1. Such a lovely review, Jeann. I now want to read this book even more. I love diverse books because I get to learn new things from them, and the really good ones really open my eyes to all these different things in the world. I'm glad this one did a good job at treating this subject with sensitivity as well as make it an interesting and educating read. Bullying and cruelty are such hard and sad truths to read about though.
    My recent post Review: Joni, Underway by Kelly Oram and Jonathan Harrow

  2. Nicole @ TQC

    Gah this book sounds tough but it also sounds like an important read. I don't know much about this topic and I always appreciate when Contemporary opens my eyes to something new. It hurts my heart though to think that everybody abandoned Kristin in her time of need. Great review!
    My recent post The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

  3. Pearl Angeli

    Amazeballs review, Jeann! 🙂 Looking forward to read this interesting book in the future! xx

  4. I really want to read this book! I am a huge fan of diverse books, and tbh, one of the main reasons why I love to read books that deals with sexuality, is that I myself am a straight girl from a country which is quite conservative, so books like these, make me see the LGBT community in a new light, a different perspective. This book sounds like a really unique and beautiful read, and I can't wait to read it!
    Lovely review Jeann!
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    • Oh man, you will really like this one then Mishma, it definitely opens your mind up to new things. Thanks Mishma~! <3

  5. I loved this book so much. The premise was incredible- I mean, I certainly haven't read about an intersex character before! And I loved Kristin was very brave, but very real. I think the feelings she had were so realistic. Unfortunately, so was the bullying and backlash, which is a really sad commentary. But really, this book is such a must-read! I am really glad you enjoyed it too, fabulous review!
    My recent post #ShatteringStigmas: Patrick’s Story

  6. danielleisbusyreading

    This sounds like a great diverse read, Jeann! I think it would be hard to read – especially the bullying – but I love that it addresses a topic I've never read before in YA and does so informatively but in a way where you also care about the MC.
    Glad you loved this one!

    • It was really fantastic to read about and to educate myself about to, while telling an entertaining and relatable story!

  7. I agree that this book is pretty much the definition of diversity. I loved it because I got a glimpse into something completely new!

  8. aentee @ read at midnight

    Fantastic review, Jeann, this looks like it will be both revealing and heartbreaking! I have vowed to read more diverse reads and it seems that all the hard hitting stuff are amongst the contemporary titles. I must investigate further!!
    My recent post Book Review: The Fifth Season

  9. I've heard so many amazing things about this book and I LOVE how diverse it is. It's sad because there aren't many books out there that deal with intersex individuals but I AM GLAD THIS IS OUT THERE.

    It isn't surprising that the people around Kristin are assholes but I am happy to hear that her dad was supportive and went out of her way to help her.

    Lovely review, Jeann! 🙂
    My recent post THE FOURTH POTATO HAS BEEN CHOSEN!!!!

    • It was so incredibly diverse Rashika and definitely taught me a few things! The dad was so so lovely. But the bullying broke my heart! Thanks hun <3

  10. I already love this book and I haven't even read it yet! This is one of those that I believe everyone should read, whether for pleasure or in class in school, because it sheds light on such an important matter. I know for certain that not many people know about being an intersex, and it would do the world a lot of good if there was more awareness going on, and make them understand that despite being different physically, we're still all the same inside. Great review, Jeann!
    My recent post THE FOURTH POTATO HAS BEEN CHOSEN!!!!

    • Yippee, I think you may like it Faye because of all the diversity! It's so right, awareness is the first step to acceptance.

  11. Braine-Talk Supe

    When there's extreme bulying, I always look for the adults and people of authority. I mean how can kids get away with shit like that?!?! It's either their parents ignore them or condone them. As a parent, I always know when there's something wrong with my kid and I don't stop pestering him until I'm satisfied. LOL
    My recent post Pick Up Lines: Jack Gets His Man by D.E. Haggerty

    • You are so right Braine – I mean wouldn't they have realised it? Her dad was fantastic in here, so supportive and she just didn't want to hurt him.

  12. I am so glad you liked this so much Jeann! <3 I've heard nothing but glowing things about it, and your review only reinforces my need to get a copy of it ASAP. It's so great that education and information can really make a difference in how it prevents bullying and whatnot. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! xx

    • It was really fantastic Zoe, I'm so glad it lived up to my expectations. Yes, education and understanding is important!

  13. Grace @ RebelMommyBB

    This is one that sounds so great just based on that it is a topic I know pretty much nothing about. Plus I have heard such great things, especially about how the topic was handled. Glad you enjoyed it. Great review!
    My recent post Review ~ Before We Were Strangers

  14. Charnell

    Wonderful review. This book sounds so interesting and I really want to read it myself. It sounds like the topic is handled with sensitivity and explores it well. I love diverse books, I want to gobble them all up! This is going on the TBR!!! 🙂

  15. Nina

    This sounds like it would be a great book to experience!! I actually learned about the term intersex and the different ways one can be intersex in one of my Queer Studies classes in college.

    However, fair warning, transsexual is usually an anti-trans slur (it's more often used as insult and derogatory term nowadays). Some may use it but it's not considered the umbrella term for those who identify differently from the gender they were born. The actual acceptable umbrella term is transgender or just trans female/trans male. Hermaphrodite is outdated too.

  16. Anne

    I just finished this last week and liked it too, though I could not believe how harsh everyone was at her school. Gosh, I can't imagine every single person being that cruel. I felt for her, though I wished the story was a bit longer? Or more drawn out? Overall very good to read.

  17. keionda

    Girl while I was reading your review I had the SAME exact questions! Like how don't you know you have male parts? That didn't make any sense to blame but I liked how she handled it. (She handled it much better than I would have) JS Happy you loved it though girl! Awesome review and have a happy week. God bless.♡

    • I know, it was really strange! But I guess if she thought it was just a part of it. Maybe if she was younger it would have made it more believable? Not sure. Thank you love <3

  18. I've heard nothing but amazing things about this book so far, Jeann. I love that it tackles so many different forms of diversity. I'm glad that this was also a knowledgeable book for you. I love it when a book is able to teach me something. I wasn't aware of all the differences either until I took a Biology of the Women course at uni. I need to find a copy of this for myself!
    Great review, Jeann! 🙂
    My recent post Review : Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan

    • It was really fantastic Nick! I completely agree, books serve to entertain and education. That would definitely be a fascinating course.

  19. Fantastic review! I have been eyeing this book for a while, but I was a bit wary because sometimes topics like these are hard to write, but I am so glad it is taking the topic seriously and honestly! I love that there is a diversity campaign for books, and I have been meaning to read something different. I look forward to reading it.

  20. I really want to read this one just to…basically educate myself better! I didn't even know what "hermaphrodite" meant and had to google. :O SO I NEED KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS. Although I hate books about bully because they make me so sad…but doesn't make them any less true of course, just grrr. Humans can be so ridiculously mean.

    • That's such a great idea Cait, this book definitely makes you realise all the differences that are out there. The bullying was absolutely horrible.

  21. nellieandco

    WOW, this sounds insanely diverse and I think I'm a little intimidated by the diversity and the subject because it's the fear of the unknown. BUT, it's something I'd consider reading later down the line because it seriously does sound fabulous, so thanks for review Jeann! 🙂
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  22. Kara Terzis

    This looks FABULOUS. I haven't read anything that sounds quite like this one, so I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this one if I'm able to. GREAT to hear that it's a subject matter that's been dealt with in an honest, relatable way. Lovely review! <3
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