Jul 6, 2015

A Review of "None of The Above," or This Should he Required High School Reading

The following post contains spoilers and somewhat NSFW language regarding IW Gregorio's "None of the Above." If you plan to read it, which you really must, be advised that you have been warned.

This was the first book in my 10 in 10 Reading Challenge. That's reading 10 books in 10 weeks. And I know what you are thinking:

"You can barely finish one book in two years!"

Well you're wrong. With friends taking part to motivate me, and keeping a shortlist of books I have wanted to read for ages (and it also being summertime with less TV shows airing) I have just begun week 3 and I am already on Book 4. Here is my first 10 in 10 review.

"None of the Above" by IW Gregorio tells a story of a girl named Kristin Lattimer who seems to have everything going for her: she's a High School track star, she's bound to be in the homecoming court, she's already got a college scholarship lined up and she has plenty of friends (and is dating one of the best looking athletes in school). But all that gets turned inside out when she finds out something about herself after her "first time" turns out to be more painful than pleasurable.

Kristin learns she has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, and that she was born with male testes internally and differing chromosomes from. Typical females. She hasn't ever had a menstrual cycle but she always blamed it on her athleticism, until she finds out AIS women are usually born without a uterus and are therefore infertile. This condition, which falls under the umbrella of Differences of Sex Development, is sometimes called intersex.

The story continues to chronicle what happens as she is confronted by the reality many young women (and men) go through when discovering their intersex condition. This incliudes depression, secrecy, shame, loneliness and so much more. Without going into too much detail, Krissy's complicated situation doesn't stay secret for long and the resulting story is quite an emotional and realistic journey.

I really loved this book because I have read about and studied some DSDs and I can say with full confidence Gregorio's narrative is spot-on. The secrecy and confusion and anger regarding intersex conditions is still so prevalent in our society, even as LGBTQIA issues are at the forefront of both culture and politics.

I think every young person should have to read this book, either in English or Sexual Health class in high school/secondary school, so they may understand that being born different is not limited to physical external characteristics. Everyone is unique and there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to a DSD.

Onething I did find interesting: While some intersex activists have reclaimed the word "hermaphrodite" just as LGBTQIA activists have reclaimed "queer," the term is antiquated and ugly and Gregorio's use in Krissy's story is pejorative and rightly so.

Truly, I could not put this book down and it wasn't because of a personal interest in the subject matter. Krissy is someone we all know; she's the girl next door. In fact, chances are we have all met someone with intersex characteristics, as they occur as frequently as 1 in every 2,000 births. Krissy is average, typical until she discovers her condition, and while her story is transformative both physically and emotionally, it is truly her DSD status that makes her unique.

Please read this book and write a review on Goodreads for it. You will be glad you did. And there might be a kid who reads your review who has AIS and yours could be the one that makes unemployment read on and realize they are not alone.

Reviews forthcoming for books 2 and 3 of the 10 in 10 challenge. Happy reading!