None of the Above
[read on audio]
[summary from publisher]
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?
What I Like
Exposure to Intersexuality
When heard about None of the Above (generally in tiny snippets on Twitter), I had no idea what it was about. Like many people, I assumed “intersex” has something to do with being transgender. It wasn’t until I heard Gregorio speak at SEYA Fest 2017 that I heard an explanation of intersex. As soon as I heard the explanation–and Gregorio’s personal passion about the topic–I knew I had to read it.
Balanced Stereotypical Characters
We’ll get to the stereotypical characters more in a bit, but let me balance that forthcoming criticism with praise for Gregorio’s fully developing the stereotyped characters and giving them some features that offset their predictability (ever so slightly).
Issues of Representation
Before publishing a positive review of this book, I needed to know how intersex readers felt about the representation in the book. While I thought it was balanced and educational, my opinion obviously isn’t the same as someone from the represented group. I found this review by an intersex rights advocate, which is positive about the rep. (note: that review contains info that I would consider spoilers.)
Not So Sure About…
Ok, not really everything else. But while I loved the fact that None of the Above brings new light to a whole section of humanity that I didn’t know about, it is an otherwise unremarkable book. It’s not bad. Gregorio talks about family and grief and finding your place in the world. But honestly, I knew every beat from a few chapters in. So beyond the plot of Krissie discovering and working through her intersex diagnosis, there wasn’t much of interest.
In all fairness, this is Gregorio’s first book. I’m so very glad that she added very needed diversity to the YA scene. I’m hopeful for more surprise and more depth in her next book. The seeds for it were sown in None of the Above, but they didn’t quite deliver.
It’s possible that I judged this book too harshly because I don’t connect well with YA contemporary in general. As a homeschooled, very conservative child, my upbringing was worlds different from most contemporary YA characters. I don’t connect with parties and drinking and sex with whoever and high school cliques.
So the problem might be me, not the book.
A very necessary read, if only for the chance to walk in the shoes of someone else.