Title: None of the Above
Author: I. W. Gregorio
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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?
TW: sexual assault, transphobia, bullying
I want to add a little disclaimer to this review to say that I’m not intersex, so I can’t judge whether this book is realistic or not.
None of the Above was the 3rd book I read for the #DiversityDecBingo, and was my pick for a book with a non-binary MC.
None of the Above is about a girl called Kristin who learns early on in the book that she’s intersex. The book is about her dealing with the news, figuring out her identity, and the intense bullying she faces when the news is leaked to the whole school.
I’m going to be upfront about it and tell you that I didn’t like this book. At all. But let’s start on a positive note and tell you the 2 things that I did like about it.
- The book was extremely informative and eye-opening.
- It wasn’t that kind of book where someone goes through something ‘life changing’, is able to deal with it in a week, and then gets a happy ending. Kirstin really struggles with what’s happening, and it takes time for her to process things.
Now onto the things that I didn’t really like about this book.
- There was a lot of insensitive language, not only towards being intersex (the word ‘hermaphrodite’ was used very often, and so is the word ‘tranny’), but there were also quite a few ‘jokes’ that I couldn’t appreciate, like:
“My mom would have sooner slit her wrists than parade her prepubescent daughter around wearing a two-piece”
‘I turned the radio on as I navigated through town.”You care what we listen to?””Anything, as long as it’s not by someone who rose to fame on a Disney Channel show.””Please.” I gave him the stink eye. “Give me some credit.””No judgement. I’m just giving you my trigger warnings, that’s all.”
- This one contains spoilers.
At the end of the book, Kirstin is making out with a guy called Josh at a club, and he figures out that she’s the Kirstin everyone is talking about instead of Lara, the fake name she gave him. He get’s furious, and then proceeds to sexually assault her to ‘look for her penis’. The scene was absolutely heartbreaking to read, but, in my opinion, it’s also handled very poorly.
After her sexual assault, Kirstin thinks that ‘her worst case scenario has now happened to her and she’s still here, so she’s ready to pick up her life again and go back to school’. This made me extremely and incredibly angry. Not only does the author treat sexual assault as a minor thing, she even tries to put a positive spin on it and insinuates that the only way Kirstin could’ve fully accepted herself was by going through this. This is highly insensitive, and so not okay.
- I didn’t really like the writing style. The pacing felt very off, and I sometimes felt weeks passed in the story, while it had only been a day. The characters, especially the side-characters, felt very underdeveloped and one-dimensional, and like a lot of the characters I’ve seen in other books. The extremely bossy popular girl, the extremely nice popular girl, the very sporty boyfriend and ‘the-long-term-friend-who-has-always-had-a-crush-on-her-but-she-never-noticed-but-now-she’s-falling-for-him-too’-guy. It just wasn’t great.
Overall, this book was very informative, but that’s also the only thing I liked about the book. I can’t give this book more than 2 stars.