Top 5 Wednesday: Books On Hard Topics

Welcome to another Top 5 Wednesday which is now hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Today’s topic is about our top five books on hard topics. If you’re wondering what a hard topic is it’s a topic that is something heavy such as mental illness, eating disorders, sickness, etc. So these are my picks:

5. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

myheartandotherblackholes

This book deals with the topic of suicide and when I read it I felt like I could relate to a lot of what was being said and some of the words and sentences really stuck out to me. Though it did have flaws I think that it handled the subject pretty well, but it’s always a hard topic to really grasp.

4. This is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

thisiswhereitends

This one deals with school shootings and it’s a fast-paced story that really just had me needing to know what happens next. I thought that some parts were kind of unnecessary or that it didn’t make sense given the situation, but overall I really enjoyed it.

3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

everything

This one is about a few things: a girl with a very serious health condition, and a mother with mental health issues. It’s a cutesy read for sure, but there are some underlying problems within the book that surface a lot toward the end especially.

2. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

noneoftheabove

This deals with the topic of being an intersex person and what it’s like discovering that, plus bullying and how to reach out for help. It’s a fascinating read given I had never heard the term intersex before reading this book and so I thought it was a great eye opener for that reason.

1 . Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

everylastword

This book deals with a particular kind of OCD where the main character uses poetry to help her cope with it. It’s also got quite a bit of romance, too, but I love the way it’s handled and I found myself once again relating to a lot of what was said.

Though some of these reads are on the lighter side of the spectrum for hard topics, I think that they’re still important because those kinds of things are so broad and it’s hard to pinpoint an exact way people react and cope and live; we’re all varied individuals, after all.

Let me know some of the books that you’d recommend to me on hard topics!

None of the Above Book Review

noneoftheabove

Title: None of the Above
Author: I.W. Gregorio
Publisher: Balzer + Bray – an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Genres: Young Adult – Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: Purchased Hardcover

“None of the Above” by I.W. Gregorio is about a girl named Kristin who is a runner. She’s captain of her track team and is a hurdler – and she’s good at it. But one day when her and her boyfriend try to have sex and it’s less than pleasant, Kristin goes to an ob-gyn and discovers something about herself that she never would have imagined in her wildest dreams: she’s intersex. What’s this means is that her outward appearance is female while her insides resemble a male’s. Her world shatters after that in more ways than one. It’s a story about a girl of eighteen years who is trying to look at the prospects of her future midst a diagnosis that shakes her to the core and how she tries to cope with it and the phases of her coping.

This story. This story. It was so beautiful and eye opening. I had never heard of intersex before I read this novel. As a way to read more diversely, I have opened up to the subject and let me tell you: this book has expanded my love for intersex and people going through gender identity issues more than I had expected.

Let me first talk about some of the characters. Some spoilers to follow!

Kristin Lattimer has never had her period before. She’s 18 and her aunt claims that she’s just a “late bloomer.” She’s thought it was just because of how active she is: as a runner she is both part of the outdoor and indoor teams and practically runs whenever she has the chance to. I’d definitely classify her as an introvert, only really comfortable with her close group of her friends and having her recharge time when she’s alone. When she finds out about how she is intersex, she is instantly horrified. I don’t blame her; if I heard news that I had something so radically different from what I believed to be true about me my whole life, I’d be mortified, too.

She doesn’t handle the news particularly well at all. And when news spreads of her being a hermaphrodite (proper term is intersex) at school, she is instantly labeled a freak, her boyfriend breaks up with her, and she just feels her world crashing down. As an overall character, I felt she was very relatable to teens. I, too, have struggled with gender identity once or twice in my life (not to the degree many others have), but I have also dealt with sexual identity and coming to terms with it and coming out to those I’m closest to (I identify as bisexual).

At times she was overly whiny or just too dramatic for my tastes, but I understood that she was going through an ordeal and couldn’t figure out just how to cope with it and how to really let it sink in that that was who she was. That was really the only flaw I had about this book.

Vee and Faith are Kristin’s two best friends and they are pretty much polar opposites. Though this book deals mostly with Kristin’s thoughts and emotions, it does talk a bit about how the girls took the news of Kristin’s sex differently: where Vee compartmentalized it, Faith was more concerned about how Kristin was feeling and how others felt. I thought they played their parts in the story well and I was proud of them at the end.

Sam is/was Kristin’s boyfriend and… well, I thought he’d be able to sit down and listen to her explain things, but that just didn’t happen. He had the raging hormones fit for a teen and the attitude of a driven guy. I didn’t really approve of him in the end.

Darren, though his time was short in the novel, played a big role and I liked that he was in it. And oh so adorable. I’m glad that he was one of the few to not push Kristin away for her “condition” and accepted her as she is. Props, dude.

Gwenyth, another intersex girl, became quick friends with Kristin and I loved a lot of the things she said (I highlighted them with little post-its). She was supportive and very open to listening to Kristin’s problems and dishing out her own advice from first hand experience.

Now, as for the plot, I definitely thought it was unique. I had never heard of intersex until I read this novel and I thought it was well written as it took a journey through the mind of a teen and how she deals with such news. It was, at times, repetitive in terms of how Kristin reacted to certain things, but I also enjoyed the fact that whenever those kinds of situations came about that Kristin would then later reflect on it and decide for herself if it was a good or bad thing. It was definitely reminiscent of high school life and how teens can be so cruel to each other (don’t deny it, you know it’s true). I’m just glad there was some form of support in the book and she wasn’t completely alone in it.

My overall thoughts are these: 1) this is a book everyone should read; 2) this opened my eyes to more conflicts of self that I never really knew existed [I did in some ways, not others]; and 3) my love for those suffering through gender identity issues has grown so much.

I highly recommend this book and rate it 5/5 stars.

Accompanying video: None of the Above Book Review