male, female, or...

None of the Above - Andrea Di Gregorio

At some point during my childhood I heard a story about a little girl who was born with male parts inside her body. I have no idea where I heard it, I just remember being really affected by it and that it really stuck with me. I was a late bloomer, to put it politely, and even after I hit puberty and changes were being had there was still a little voice in my head remembering that story, and never being able to let go of the fear it caused.

Needless to say, it wasn’t hard for me to step into Kristin’s shoes and feel all the emotions going through her when she was told that she had Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. It wasn’t hard to imagine all the confusion and the identity questions that would manifest, and the fear and insecurities.

That wasn’t even the hardest part of the story. I actually think that Kristin could have gotten a handle on all the emotions if she’d only had more time. The hardest part of the story was watching the fallout when Kristin’s diagnosis was leaked to the entire school. It’s so sad that cruelty is the believable reality in any circumstance, let alone one in which the victim is already so fragile.

On top of dealing with everything emotionally and mentally, Kristin also has to deal with whether or not her friends will turn on her over something that was beyond her control, and medical. This was where the book really got me upset. The good news, though, was that Kristin was able to determine who was truly her friend and who really wasn’t at all.

There were some aspects of the book that I think did the story an injustice. First, I think that the characters felt a little bit one dimensional. What I will take away from None of the Above will be the education of AIS, it won’t be the characters. Frankly, even writing this review I couldn’t remember the name of the main character for a moment. There wasn’t anything particularly spectacular about anyone’s personality. Also, Kristin was going through so much. The loss of her circle; the loss of herself too, in a sense. She was dealing with a boyfriend, best friends, her father… I’m not sure that we needed to have an additional love story injected into the pages too. It’s okay if your rock is just a really amazing friend. The inclusion caused the story to feel just a little bit shallow.

All in all, really informative. It dealt with the reality of discovering the AIS diagnosis late in life, and the toll it would take on one’s emotional well being. It just needed some trimming of the unnecessary drama.

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