In this young adult novel, Kristin Lattimer is a high school senior who seems to have everything – good looks, two best friends Vee and Faith, excellent athleticism especially in hurdles, a scholarship to State University, and a hunk of a boyfriend. She and her boyfriend are even voted Prom Queen and King. Kristin’s dad is a single parent, as her mother died of cervical cancer when Kristin was in 6th grade. Hence Kristin’s primary sources of knowledge of adolescent changes are her Aunt Carla and her peers, and she is able, at age 18 to chalk up her lack, not only of menstruation, but also of menarche to her running practice. But when she experiences painful and incomplete intercourse, she seeks the advice of a friend’s gynecologist.

 Dr. Johnson quickly diagnoses “androgen insensitivity syndrome” and explains that AIS is “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.” (p. 37) The gynecologist then stumbles through further explanations and concludes, “Miss Lattimer, I think that you might be what some people call a hermaphrodite.” (p. 38) To the now stunned teen, the physician further explains karyotypes, hormone levels and the “better term” intersex. Since Kristin has undescended testes, the discussion includes possible cancer risk, and Kristin’s dad is called into the doctor’s office as well.

 The reader follows Kristin’s journey of discovery – meeting a ‘specialist,’ urologist Dr. Cheng, who provides the definitive diagnosis of AIS and explains that “chromosomal sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation are all separate concepts.” (p. 59) Issues of privacy, friendship, betrayal, sexuality, community, ostracism, social media, athletic rules vis-à-vis gender, and support groups are woven into the story and Kristin learns to cope with her new diagnosis and self-awareness.


The author, a urologist, notes in her author bio that the inspiration for this story began with a patient she cared for while a resident at Stanford. This novel provides a much needed storyline for teens, young adults and family members who seek an understanding of intersex and the spectrum of gender identity. The novel lies squarely in the YA genre, with a smart, likable teen protagonist displaying teen angst aplenty, but with an intersex twist. For example, in response to a nurse asking Kristin if she’d like a magazine to pass the time, Kristin notes, “What I really wanted was to know how the **** [asterisks inserted] I was going to tell my boyfriend that I had testicles.” (p. 41) As an advocate for diversity in literature, I.W. Gregorio adds an accessible, positive and honest story to engage us all in the complex world of intersex and disorders [differences] of sex development (DSD).


Harper Collins

Place Published

New York

Page Count