She/He/They/Me

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Seeing the author's background, it doesn't surprise me that this book seems tailored for mostly white, cisgender individuals who've never thought too deeply about gender before. If you're nonbinary and have spent significant time interrogating gender and your own identity, then please don't let the book cover fool you: there's not much here for someone who doesn't know the basics.

The book is a choose your own adventure, but in the digital copy I read, it falls short due to a lack of links to take you to new sections. Ultimately, I had to read it in page order, which didn't diminish the experience, exactly, but it definitely wasn't the intended method. After attempting the choose your own adventure method, I'm convinced it's more of a gimmick than an effective teaching tool. Others may disagree, however, so I'm glad something like this exists.

An intersectional understanding of gender and identity is attempted, but it falls a little flat. Those deviating from the cisgendered white norm - especially if you're a member of an indigenous culture mentioned for your "unique" gender or values - are treated with the awkward sterility you'd expect of an academic. It's sincerely appreciated to see an attempt made in this area, but there's room for improvement. Nonbinary identities in the West are largely written off, though I suppose we're to take it as progress that they're mentioned at all. Again, considering the cover and the way the book is marketed, it's disappointing. (The agender adventure path, for example, was a quarter of a page long, at most, and basically said, "This identity is too new so I can't say anything about it; how exciting!" Sigh.)

Overall, She/He/They/Me is maybe something to recommend to your clueless parents or friends.
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An appealing and creative approach to gender matters. teh amount of reasearch behind this project as incredible and I respect the author because of that and her passion for the subject, but I found it a bit bothersome not to have more information about genres in other countries and societies out of the US. Other than that, I liked the book and would like to explore other options and paths in the future.
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Reading this book was… exhausting. I did two full paths, as well as several detours where I checked out another path, and many dead-ends. In the end, I’m sure there are still chapters I haven’t read (I might return to them later), but I feel like I have a good enough idea to write a review.

Here’s the short version: as an information resource, this book is pretty good. As a choose-your-own-adventure book that emphasises nonbinary people on the cover, it fails terribly.

1) Let’s talk about the information first. Most of this book is about binary gender roles in Western culture, with a US focus. It addresses race, class, and has some chapters on transgender healthcare, as well as a few chapters on other countries, and explanation of gender roles in some indigenous cultures. It also deals with some statistics, and gave information about gender in Olympic sports that was really interesting to me. Obviously, I can’t speak for the accuracy of all this information, but I appreciated the intersectionality, and the focus on issues that I didn’t even think of.

So, why does this book absolutely fail to deliver what the cover and blurb seemed to promise?

2a) A quick word about the formatting. I read an e-ARC that had links to every chapter in the contents, but at the end of chapters (where it gives you the choices and tells you which chapter to go next) there are no links. There are also no page numbers, which (especially in a paperback copy) would have been much more useful in my opinion than chapter numbers. This book required a lot of jumping around, as all choose-your-adventure books do, but the actual activity of jumping around was so inconvenient that after my second read-through it just got frustrating.

2b) And now let me talk about my personal experience trying to read this book as it was intended, as a nonbinary person.

On my first read, I picked that my assigned gender didn’t match the gender I felt I was. So far, so good. Next question is whether your parents accept your gender identity or not. I picked no, so I was taken to a chapter that forced me into “pretending to be a cis person for now”. And then… the gender questioning thing never came up again. I actually knew about this because another reviewer pointed it out, but it was still a really dysphoric experience, and a pretty big oversight. There could have been a chapter there about transitioning as an adult, or leaving your parents, or ANYTHING. But no, I guess if your parents don’t accept your gender then you’re out of luck forever.

On my second read, I picked that my parents accept my gender identity. This allowed me some options, like choose to be a transgender man, a transgender woman, nonbinary, or agender. (Yes, nonbinary and agender are separate.) I picked the nonbinary option, and there was about… one chapter about nonbinary experiences. Then at the marriage part, the route merged with the previous path, and I was forced into a binary of picking between being a man or a woman.

Other things I noticed:

1) If you pick the asexual option, you can be either alloromantic or aromantic, but if you pick to be allosexual, there is no mention of aromanticism.

2) I mentioned this above, but I’d just like to emphasize that for a book that emphasises nonbinary people on the cover, all the medical, sports, work and other information is only for men and women. I understand that Western society is binarist, but at the very least it could have been phrased as “you are perceived as a woman” or something similar, as opposed to “you ARE a woman”. There are also very few chapters specifically about nonbinary experiences in non-indigenous cultures.

3) There are several chapters where man vs trans man and woman vs trans woman are used, as opposed to cis man vs trans man or cis woman vs trans woman. There is also a chapter where the sentence “they have lived their lives as normal women” (as opposed to intersex) is used.

In summary, the information in this book focuses on a lot of issues and includes a variety of experiences – however, it heavily erases nonbinary people in non-indigenous cultures, and treats cisgender people as the norm, which was really disappointing after that cover.
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As a nonbinary person I was excited about this choose-your-own-path book that seemingly would allow you to follow a path of no gender or a gender other than male or female. Therefore I was quite disappointed when I exhausted the gender variant options within 15 minutes. I would love love this book if there were more paths for people who don't fit into the gender binary and if it had more information about nonbinary identities, but unfortunately it was lacking in that area.
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I enjoyed this book. It's definitely a novel approach to teaching and learning about gender as it relates to health and society.

The book is structured like a choose-your-own-adventure book, with divergent paths that allow you to not only explore the implications of your own gender identity but also invites you to explore other identity paths in order to better understand others' experiences.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that towards the end, the book invites you to explore world with a different conception of gender and what that might be like.

Overall, this is a solid book with an engaging and educational format.
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This is a wonderful book on the nuance of gender. I'm fairly well-read in the subject matter, and I still learned something. The amount of information and history this book contains is seriously impressive. I think the flip-book "choose your own adventure" style is novel and allows for a custom reading experience. The back and forth makes it friendly and easy to digest. The stand-alone nature of the segments means it is easy to just flip to a random spot in the book and get something out of it. However, if you subscribe to the "open the book to a random page" philosophy of reading, the book will lead you to flip to more and more chapters. Be prepared rto learn many things.

Although it is available on kindle, I strongly recommend that people buy this in paper--and I'm someone who prefers to read digitally. I don't think the flipping around is easily accomplished in digital format. For myself, I started reading online through Net Galley but waited for the actual book release to finish the book in hardback.  

It's thorough, inclusive, and fun to read. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in exploring gender or someone frustrated by trying to explain gender to someone else. 

Thanks Net Galley for the digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is absolutely wonderful. A choose your own adventure book about gender identity. The nontypical format makes it fun to read and accessible for both adults and younger. It really is an amazing book and I recommend it for anyone who wants to learn about gender identities.
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*I received an ARC of this book from Sourcebooks through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I read this book in one sitting, it was impossible to put down.  

I was drawn to this book because it discusses one of the topics that interest me the most: gender. Then, I read it was a choose your own path book and it blew my mind. How can a non-fiction book be written in that style? I’d like to start this review by stating that the author made it work. It takes a while to get use to, but it ends up making the read very interesting and it gives it a somewhat personalized feeling. I must caution potential readers (as does the book), it does not intend to be an exact recreation of every individual experience (with gender there is no way for it to be). But it does tackle many important issues about gender assignment, gender identity and gender expression. 

While reading the book I tried to stick to my own path, choosing the chapters as true to my case as possible (I may have taken a peek at other chapters too, oops!), so my experience with the book can be very different from the experience of others. I appreciated that the book contained definitions of the vocabulary being used, because even though I was familiar with it, others may not be, and the book seems to be interested in people who are just coming into the gender discussion. Being written by a university professor I thought the language would be somewhat inaccessible, but it wasn’t, and I also appreciate that. In addition, the author brings into the discussion important and relevant statistics (for example, gender inequality statistics by country) that I didn’t know about. So, in this sense, the book was very educational for me.    

I wouldn’t want anyone to take my next comment as a deterrent to read this book. My only “problem” (I call it this for lack of a better word) with the book is that at some point I felt it made an incorrect assumption about queerness. Specifically, because it assumed that someone who identifies as queer would necessarily be in a same-gender marriage. But, as I stated before, I do now it is difficult to encompass every minute detail about gender in just one book. So, even though it bugged me a bit, I’ll let it pass. 

I read all the conclusions for the book, and I found myself nodding at all of them. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to delve into the gender discussion or anyone who is eager to know a bit more about it. Also, I think it is a good personal exercise for those of us who are constantly looking into ourselves to explore parts that may have not yet been discovered. I look forward to reading other paths (aside from the one I chose based on my personal experience), I’m sure it will be fun, too.
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I like choose-your-own-adventure books and this one was about genders so of course I'd be interested. I firstly picked answers from my own experiences (and learn things) and then chose other options to see what it could be. In a way this was great because there were a lot of explanations and definitions but for a book about genders, most choices were only about being a man or a woman which really put me off. But the choose-your-own-adventure was a great way to make us learn about genders, about our own experience, and try a totally different experience.
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I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks as an ARC via NetGalley.  The opinions expressed are my own.

An interesting concept,   A Choose-Your-Own-Gender book.  However, I felt this book was more about exploring the history of gender, than to help someone who was questioning their gender.  

There are many facts presented as well as terminology, however I feel that this book was more theoretical as to showcasing what a chosen path would actually look like.  No real life testimonials to show how people are really living.  I think the most used phrases  in the book are "you might ..." and "maybe you..."

The nature of the choose-your-own style of book also led to a ton of repeating knowledge.  I started skimming after a while.
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Certainly an interesting read and suitable for those who want to learn something new about gendered identities. Not necessarily for those who just begin their journey, but also for me who quite understand some for some time. Highly recommended due to its unique format!
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I think this is an interesting concept - a choose-your-own adventure style book on gender - but just reading it through for 'myself', I found too many of the 'choices' I was given were reduced to the binary. I had to choose male or female to progress multiple times, even when I'd chosen that I didn't fit the gender binary early on. I chose that I was disabled early on, but then none of the path that followed that choice seemed to be tailored to that choice. I think it's a great idea, but not as encompassing as it could have been for people outside the gender binary, which surely should have been the whole point? Also, towards the end, I was given a choice between leaving gender as it was, creating more gender equality, and abolishing gender altogether. I chose the second, because while I know gender is a construct, as many trans people could tell you, finding the right gender for your self image and identity? Super important. The book told me I was wrong and should have chosen the final option, and that only through abolishing gender altogether could the world be a good place. And I was a bit... excuse me? I had a reason to choose the way I did that is completely valid?

So, yeah, it's probably got a bunch of good information in there if you read every page and choice, but it didn't really do it for me the way I hoped it would.
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She/He/They/Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters is a fabulous book that takes the reader on a route through the reality of social history and customs that come along with gender roles and identities. It starts by asking whether you are born in a time and place that gender exists. Your answer determines the next page you go to. My journey took me to a society where people are born with two genders. Since my gender assignment, expression, and identity are all matching, you would think my journey would be a hop, skip, and a jump and done, but Robyn Ryle explores more about gender than you think and finds elements to complicate things such as how we feel about our bodies, disabilities, the work we do, access to birth control and more.


I love the warm and optimistic tone of this book. I loved going to a new page and seeing “Congratulations!” as the first word. Of course, it’s not all fun and games. Ryle recognizes realistic cultural biases and oppression, but the tone is so warm and comforting that the book makes a person want to continue the journey. It was intriguing and even fun to follow other possible journies that lead us all to questioning how we think about gender.

She/He/They/Me will be released on March 5th. I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

She/He/They/Me at Sourcebooks
Robyn Ryle author site

★★★★★
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I absolutely love the concept of this book and the potential it holds for helping to shape how our culture discusses gender. A new take on the "choose your own adventure" the book lets you explore numerous aspects of gender identity and cultural implications of that choice. One second I found myself in a matriarchal choosing the gender of my primary caregiver and the other second I was a part of a non-binary gender culture in India. 

As far as I am concerned the original vision for this book was achieved and I am delighted to have had a chance to review it prior to release. I can not wait to see more people read this!
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I went into this book expecting one style of writing and got another. Ryle explores gender through the make your own story page finder and this is an interesting way of looking at it. The non-linear nature of it means that as a reader you do not have the same reading experience and the way the book is structured that some routes are dead ends that do not go anywhere.I enjoyed reading this and it made me consider what gender is and how it is treated in countries that aren't the UK or USA.
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I got an ARC of this book.

I was really excited for this book. It is formatted in a way that I have never seen a gender book formatted before. It fit for one of the reading challenges I am doing this year and it is about gender which is one of my favorite topics. 

The book is really basic level stuff, which is nice. It does get a bit repetitive if you read it straight through, but Ryle clearly put in effort to minimize that. The book can be read straight through and make sense, so if you wanted to make sure you got all of the stats and ideas out of the book, it would work. 

I have three issues with the book. Just two, that is pretty fantastic. Ryle clearly knows gender. I am impressed with what she was able to do and how she was able to make it interactive. My issues come down to some terms she used or didn't use. 

"Stealthy" is not the term that the trans community uses for not being openly trans. The term is Stealth. Like it isn't a super big deal, but if she was able to learn and teach trans topics so well in other areas (though she did fall a bit short when it came to the medical sections for trans people in a few ways, but they were so inclusive and affirming I can look past some of the details since they were small), she should have known that basic term. It is one of those terms that is being hotly debated all of the time and has been since trans hit the more mainstream world. Is being stealth the goal? Is being stealth a compliment? Is being stealth privilege? There are so many debates going on and she still didn't get the term right. 

She was so off about asexuality. Asexuality is not a lack of sex drive or a lack of desire to have sex. It is a lack of sexual attraction. Pretty much every time asexual was brought up I cringed. I am asexual, I talk with asexual people every day, I am part of asexual support groups. ASEXUALITY DOES NOT MEAN NOT HAVING SEX. Many asexual people have sex and enjoy sex. Many asexual people are kinky even. Many asexual people are completely grossed out by sex and will never consider having it in their lives. All are valid. Ryle misses that concept and minimizes a whole sexuality down to an act, despite warning the readers repeatedly to not do that. 

This book would have made a ton more sense if the term sex was used to refer to genitalia or chromosomal "gender". It would read smoother and make things easier to understand. It would have saved so much explaining and so much headache trying to figure out which sort of gender she was referring to when she said gender since she had some many gender options from identity, expression, physical, and more. This one is more a personal preference. Most of the people who I have read that have gender and sex as interchangeable or refuse to use sex as a term, tend to not be as inclusive as Ryle has shown herself to be. So I was really shocked. Normally it is a cis white (probably straight considering the way they talk about sexuality) dude who decides that his word is law who does this. 

So overall this book is pretty damn fantastic. There were some issues here or there, but for most people they will not even notice them. I just wish the asexuality portion was correct, then I could reasonably give this book five stars. I am just so tired of people getting it wrong and having to defend my sexuality to show it exists.
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Think of She/He/They/Me as a ‘Choose Your Own Gender Adventure’ book. You start the book off making decisions about your sex, gender, identity, and where you are within human history – from here you explore the world around you and what your life would be like with these factors.

As an educational resource this book is amazing. Through it’s very interactive format, readers can easily grasp the differences that gender, sex, and identification can make and how they can affect a person. Not only this, but the book provides a historical and societal context for the way in which these ideas are perceived and how people are treated.

Please note, above I only mention gender, sex, and identification but She/He/They/Me explores so much more. With each decision and chapter that you progress through, you learn more about either yourself or the theoretical journey your decisions take you on.

I would recommend this book for everyone wanting to find out more out about gender; the book is a beautiful resource that not only educates about gender identity and sexuality, but history as it explores the past and our potential future.

Please note: I received a copy of She/He/They/Me from NetGalley.
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I loved the way this book was formatted it was a very unique reading experience. Fr the rest was this book very quick to read, very informative but I don’t think it will stick with me. Still something I would highly recommend as it is a comprehensable guide to gender.
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Choose your own adventureThis is a non-fiction book like I haven't seen before. Discussing everything to do with gender - wether it's sexuality, inequality, upbringing, race - She/He/They/Me is a 'choose your own adventure' style book. Now, you may be wondering how on earth a non-fiction book could work as a choose your own adventure book, but trust me, it works.The book begins with a short overview explaining what gender is. This is only a few pages long so it doesn't get into the nitty-gritty details, but Ryle gives you enough to work with if you're new to the whole gender discussion for you to make your way through the book.From the beginning Ryle encourages the reader to explore many different pathways, wether you explore your own, a path similar to your own, or the complete opposite. I chose to follow my own pathway for the most part, but at some points I decided to play devil's advocate and see what she had to say for a different branch.How does this work?Like I have said, this is a 'choose your own path' or 'choose your own adventure' book, and Ryle consistently refers to your experience with gender as your "gender adventure". I found this a really interesting way to think about gender and for me it was something I enjoyed.As this is an "adventure", you never really know where you're going to end up. At the end of every chapter Ryle asks the reader a question. For example, at the end of chapter 1 she asks "Do people in the time and place where you're born think about gender at all?" There are 2 possible paths your answer could take.Answer 1: You're born into a time and place exists - Go to Chapter 10Answer 2: You're born into a time and place where gender doesn't exist - Go to Chapter 11I decided to play devil's advocate here and went to chapter 11 - even though it was way outside of my own experience - just to see what she had to say. There was a brief paragraph talking about a gender-non-conforming society that ended with "Sorry, but it looks like there's no escaping gender just yet. Go to 10."This is something that happened often in the book and I didn't enjoy it. This is probably a bad example, but often I felt cheated out of that path and as though Ryle was trying to push her opinion onto you even if you wanted to explore a different path and way of thinking. It felt as though if Ryle didn't like it or think it was possible then she shut down that train of thought immediately. It was frustrating when I definitely had a different opinion to the options she deemed 'correct' or worthy of being discussed. I would have liked to have had a conversation with her about the times she shuts down these pathways, as it felt kind of close minded at times to not even give it an opportunity to be discussed.What does this book talk about?This book covers a number of topics and I am not going to list them incase I miss one out. But I can guarantee that there will be something in this book that interests you.Personally, I followed the path that reflected my own experiences, but I might go back one day and read more. I found learning about the way different cultures view gender very interesting, but I did have a problem with certain aspects of this. For example, when it came to choosing your path, the choices may be "You live in the United States", "You live in Buenos Ares", "You live in Sweden." I live in none of these places, and I am sure many readers won't live in these places either. If I wanted to follow my own pathway, how am I supposed to choose when none of these are correct? I chose the US as I am sure it is the closest to the UK, but even some of the things in the following chapter didn't match up as, get this, the US and the UK are different places.I loved finding out that Sweden has a word "hen" that is an official part of the Swedish language while also having gender-neutral preschools - or nurseries. Furthermore, I had no idea that "the United States had one of the worst rates of women dying from pregnancy-related complications in the developed world."ProblemsApart from my own personal annoyances with certain aspects, this book does have a few problems. There are times, when talking about Trans people, Ryle uses some phrases like "born male" and "born female" which could have been easily avoided, as at other times she uses the terms "assigned male" and "assigned female". It would have been much better - and clearer for those using this book to learn - if Ryle had stuck with one phrase. Furthermore it might have been more clear if there was a note from Ryle explaining the differences between the two, if she was using the different phrases to mean different things, that is.I have also discovered that, for example, if you choose the path of a trans women, when it comes to sexuality, from then on the book assumes the path you have chosen is the path of someone cisgendered. Additionally, if you choose a path of someone with a trans identity but unsupportive parents/guardians, you are put back into the closet with no opportunity to come out. As a result, if you don't choose the path of someone cisgendered you are likely to hit a dead end at some point and end up following a path that assumes that you are cis.ConclusionOverall this is an interesting and quick read. If you want to choose a path - whether that is your own path or someone else's - you can finish this book in around an hour. This is good if you want to pick something up for a little while, and its also good if you want to go back at another time and explore a different pathway.I am not giving this 5 stars as I feel like Ryle pushed her own opinion on certain matters too often. In a factual, non-fiction book I feel like it is important to at least explore every option without shunning it immediately. Furthermore, as I have mentioned, some of the language used is not very clear or entirely inclusive and these are aspects that could have been easily changed.However, overall I really love how much the book makes it clear that your "gender adventure" is all to do with how you feel and your choice. While it discusses how you view gender or how you portray your gender may be a product of your society or upbringing, ultimately it comes down to how you feel, which is why many people change the way they portray themselves to the world as they grow up and are less influenced by their parents and school teachers, and are able to make clear decisions about themselves, for themselves.
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This was a truly incredible read. Full disclaimer, the author of this book was one of my favorite professors during undergrad.  I went into it expecting to like it because I like her views on the world.  But it was so much more original and enjoyable than I had anticipated.

She/He/They/Me teaches the reader about the social construction of gender through a choose your own adventure style narrative (for example, choose whether you're from a country that views gender as binary, choose whether your gender identity matches your assigned gender at birth, etc.).  My first time through I picked answers that were true only to myself, then I started playing around with other paths.  I'm so impressed the the way in which Ryle was able to provide detailed teachings about your gender identity and gender roles by asking increasingly detailed questions about your demographics. By the end, I wasn't just learning about my gender as a female, but reading SPECIFICALLY about being a bisexual white married woman who identifies as "she" living in a disabled body in the United States.  The chapters build upon one another until you reach a "conclusion" and have the option to return to a prior chapter. 

Honestly, the most impressive part of this book is the scope of people that will make up its audience.  I have already recommended it to my husband (who really only knows much about gender at all because he married a sociologist) and a friend of mine in Tennessee currently teaching sociology.  This would be great for kids in school trying to understand sociology and the impact of gender, and you could do SO MANY assignments with it; for example, "choose a path where you are a person of color who is the opposite gender from which you identify and living in a different country" to learn specific elements of that person's experience.  Or as a non-academic reader you could explore your own path, the path of your friends, your partner(s), and the rest of the world if you're just curious.  While covered in quotations and academic sources, this is a book that reads in a more mainstream nonfiction fashion, to the point that I think it will be equally appealing to academics and non-academics alike. 

Very importantly, you don't have to know anything about gender going into this to enjoy it (part of why I recommended it to my husband, and part of why it will be great for students).  Ryle builds the book from the ground up, starting with the basics and ramping up until she lands you in the nuanced depths of research and social construction.  But even if you did just teach a course on gender a couple of years ago like I did, you may still learn something new like I did.

I am proud I was taught by a woman who is so creative and is contributing so much to the world with her words.  Not only can this book give someone a more communal sense of where he/she/they fit in the world, I can truly see it inspiring people to seek empathy for others after learning the surprising ways their experiences may be both similar and different.  And this is definitely a time when the world needs a little more empathy.  I want to thank NetGalley and Source Books for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review (and despite my inherent bias, every word was indeed honest).
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