None of the Above
Author: I.W. Gregorio
Release Date: April 7, 2015
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?
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
“As my classmates piped up I stayed silent, my eyes riveted to the clock, my mind trying its hardest not to go there: maybe Shakespeare was preaching that it shouldn’t matter if you were a man or a woman.
But what if you were something in between?”
Kristin Lattimer is one lucky girl. Great in a sport? Check. (Specifically, cross country) Healthy, stable relationship with jock boyfriend? Check. Homecoming queen nominee? Check. Tight with best girlfriends since childhood? Check.
Until all those checks become unchecked.
It all begins when Kristin finds out that she has AIS, or androgen insensitivity syndrome.
“‘It’s just a… a unique genetic syndrome that causes an intersex state – where a person looks outwardly like a female, but has some of the internal characteristics of a male.'”
This was what caught my attention when I read the blurb of the book. I remember an episode from House in the earlier seasons where a teenage model turned out to be a male with high doses of estrogen (and prostate cancer too, if I recall).
Kristin’s predicament is quite different, but she still faces difficult situations, like that patient in House. It’s bad enough to find out that your body isn’t what you thought it was, but it gets worse when you whole school finds out.
The way Kristin dealt with everything was very realistic to me and showed how strong she is as a character. Sure, it comes as a hard blow. But through it all, she grows and adapts.
When the school finds out that Kristin is intersex (as said in the blurb), she faces social ostracism from many peers.
“‘I’ve got nothing to say to you, you homo,’ he said loudly.”
It really messes her up, but throughout it all she also discovers the people that do care and that stay by her side and offered support. It’s a book about self-discovery for Kristin, but also awareness of her social circle and the type of people in it.
Speaking of social circle, Kristin is backed up by two friends from childhood that have always been with her: Faith and Krissy. Their friendship has a foundation that not even an ambiguous diagnosis can break. Kristin’s friends are as three-dimensional as herself. Faith comes out as a good Samaritan who follows the rules while Krissy’s capricious and sometimes harsh nature provides a nice foil. Then we have Kristin, who balances them all out. It’s a friendship that has equilibrium.
Spoiler: (highlight to see)Can I just give a shout out to Kristin’s dad? Like, it’s no easy feat being a single father of a teenage girl. But being a father while your daughter is going through something like this? Ooh boy. He stuck by her side along every step of the way and even printed out documents of research on Kristin’s diagnosis, which is so sweet. It’s scary for your child to be going through something like this, especially since Kristin’s mother died of cervical cancer and Kristin might have that passed through genes. Through it all, their daughter-father bond stayed strong. A+ fam guys.
Kristin’s jock boyfriend is a football player named Sam. What a typical jock name, huh? They’re been together for a while, and the tipping point in Kristin’s life came when she wanted to “do the do” with him and discovered some things that were not what she expceted. In the beginning of the book, they are very sweet together and seem like a great couple. Get farther into the book and your feelings might change about him. Why? Read the book and find out.
None of the Above is a girl’s journey in discovering and accepting herself. Kristin joins support groups, finds other people that have AIS, and throughout it all becomes friends with people that she would never have thought twice about before the diagnosis. What seemed like an easy question of choosing male or female becomes daunting as Kristin can only say “none of the above.” However, the support of friends and family make that choice easier as she learns to accept herself.
“‘Just having a Y chromosome doesn’t automatically make you a man.'”
Quotes are from an ARC copy and are subject to change upon publication.