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

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: None of the Above by I. W. GregorioNone of the Above by I. W. Gregorio
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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five-stars

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?

There was never any doubt that I was going to read None of the Above eventually. I make it a point to read as much LBGTQ+ YA as I can, because a) I think it’s important and b) I love those stories. However, I try to be pretty careful about what print ARCs I request, so I normally don’t ask for debuts; Dahlia Adler (Behind the Scenes/Last Will and Testament/Under the Lights) told me months and months ago that None of the Above was a complete Christina book and that I needed to read it. At the risk of giving her a huge ego, Dahlia’s done it again. None of the Above hit me in the feels harder than just about any book ever, and I couldn’t put it down.

Last night (as of this review writing) Dahlia was tweeting about None of the Above, and she said that it “isn’t good bc it has an intersex MC; it’s good *and* it has an intersex MC.” This distinction is where I want to start, because it’s so important that you understand that I love this book for what it IS in every respect, not because it checks the right boxes (pun intended). Yes, I seek out books with LGBTQ+ protagonists, and I do tend to like them, but it doesn’t mean they’re all good. The ones that are good tend to be especially powerful, however, and that’s the case with None of the Above.

For those who don’t know me well, let me assure you that I rarely get physically emotional about books. I certainly almost never cry, reserving my tears almost exclusively for the ends of series that meant a lot to me in certain times of life (ex. Harry Potter). I cried my way through None of the Above. I was a blubbery mess from a couple chapters in all the way to the end. This book knocked me down and jumped on my feels.

Now, I know some of you don’t like depressing books, and I don’t want you to write None of the Above off. Here’s the thing; for all the tears, I wouldn’t even call None of the Above a sad book. There are sad moments, yes, but there are also a lot of hopeful ones. The thing is that the main thing that makes me cry isn’t sadness; it’s frustration. None of the Above is a book where you will, if you’re not a monster, spend a lot of time being frustrated at the way the world treats wonderful people just because they happen to be born slightly differently. That stuff slays me. It also murders my feels (in a good way) when people step up and do better than I expected them to, which explains why, for one reason or another, I was a sniffly ball of feels all the way through.

I’ve only read two other books about intersex individuals, Middlesex and Golden Boy. I’ve loved all three of these books, because all of them have made me think and really evaluate society. Middlesex came out before intersex was even in common usage. Golden Boy and None of the Above are both about intersex teens, but they have very different situations, and I’ve learned so much from just these two books. One of the most frustrating/sad moments in the book, for me, was when Kristin visited a specialist and looked at the doctor’s form to see the usual male/female check boxes. I just sat there thinking about how many forms have those boxes and seriously my feels.

None of the Above presents the perspective of a girl with AIS, which means that she looks typically female, but lacks a uterus and has testicles inside her body. Kristin Lattimer didn’t know anything was different about her until she and her boyfriend Sam have sex for the first time. The sex hurts her a lot, so she goes to visit the ob-gyn where the news gets dropped on her. This allows the reader to learn about being intersex along with Kristin without the information feeling like an infodump.

Kristin’s personality really drives None of the Above. She has a voice that caught me immediately, and she felt completely real to me, as did the people around her. I love that Kristin has dreams for the future and her passions for running and mathematics (even though I hate those things). Kristin tries really hard, she’s friendly, and she truly cares about people. When Kristin finds out that she’s intersex, she takes it hard, in large part because everyone at school finds out and bullying immediately runs rampant. Kristin struggles to come to terms with herself and her gender in very complicated circumstances. I love her strength, but I also love the times when she’s weak, because that’s so completely real.

What I love so much too is that there is a sense of progress in this book. It’s not just the terrible stuff like bullying. There are a good number of supportive people who reach out to Kristin and treat her like a person, because, hey, guess what, she is. She learns to appreciate the people around her even more and even to appreciate the ways in which she is fortunate. None of the Above is also just so beautifully accepting of everyone and wonderfully not heteronormative.

None of the Above is an emotional read with beautiful characterization and a sweet romance. More than that, it will open eyes and make people think about how fucked up our society is towards anyone different. The world needs more books like None of the Above and a fuckton more acceptance. We can do so much better than we are, and books like this help pave the way.

Favorite Quote:

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Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif fangirl feels tears

5 responses to “Review: None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio”

  1. Dahlia Adler says:

    My perfect self has no idea why you’d think this would give me a huge ego. No idea at all. *preens in her perfection*
    Dahlia Adler recently posted…Macarons and More in The Girl at Midnight by Melissa GreyMy Profile

  2. I am SO reading this book. I L O V E D Golden Boy when I read it last year. Seriously more people ought to read that book(insert a never ending line of exclamation marks here). Have you by any chance seen the Oprah show where intersex is a subject? I was Googling after reading Golden Boy and found some interesting video interviews on YouTube.
    Mari – Escape In A Book recently posted…Tag: Burn, rewrite or reread?My Profile

  3. Okay, I know I’m not supposed to post on reviewer blogs, but I wanted to reply to Mari that YES I’ve seen the Oprah show – in fact, I met some of the people who were on it in the course of researching/vetting the book! (Arlene Baratz, Tiger Devore Smith). So completely inspiring. Such amazing people.

  4. Layla says:

    What a wonderful review of None of the Above. I really enjoyed this one as well (and for many of the same reasons you did). It’s a good book as well as being an important one, I think, and I felt like Gregorio wrote about being intersex in a compassionate and also informative way. I liked how much the book was committed to challenging the ways we think about gender, sexuality, sex, and biology – for that alone, I’d happily throw this book at teen readers by the dozen. And for what it’s worth, I think her book is ten times better than Middlesex – particularly in its treatment of intersex issues. (Go, I.W. Gregorio!) 🙂
    Layla recently posted…An Ember in the Ashes: 5 Great Book-to-Movie Adaptations with Sabaa TahirMy Profile

  5. This is a fantastic review. I have seen people give this book 4-5 stars on goodreads but have yet to read a review for it. I actually flew through your review, it grabbed my attention and really has sparked my interest and desire to pick up this book.
    Ashley @The Quiet Concert recently posted…April 2015 RecapMy Profile

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