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I Am J by Cris Beam

I Am J (edition 2011)

by Cris Beam

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3453131,733 (3.82)11
Title:I Am J
Authors:Cris Beam
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (no date), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:2010, .Fiction, .Young Adult, GLBTQ

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I Am J by Cris Beam


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» See also 11 mentions

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Assorted comments:
—the homophobia and misogyny was relentless and went more or less unaddressed ("omg, don't call me a lesbian, ANYTHING but a lesbian, gross" "a bunch of guys are sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl in the other room? I don't care about that stupid bitch" "how dare you compare it to rape when I start making out with my non-consenting best friend while she's sleeping" "I was only attracted to you because I must have known you were secretly a man inside" etc.)
—the main character is a self-absorbed jerk with no capacity for self-reflection and unfortunately goes through absolutely no development in that respect
—the story got a little tiresome, especially with a lack of realistic and likeable characters
—for YA lit, it's pretty up-to-date on trans* politics — which could be a good or bad thing, depending on how you feel about the asterisk
—the use of Spanish in the novel wasn't obnoxious (I hate it when authors or TV shows use a line in Spanish and then repeat the exact same line in English, instead of letting the context show its meaning; here, the author did the latter)
—none of the female characters had any personality; now that I think about it, the male characters weren't much better either, tbh (J's parents and Chanelle got the closest, but Blue and Melissa were just boring props to J's story)
—gender stereotypes abound

In short, it might be a useful read for someone going through a similar situation, simply because of the lack of YA lit about trans teens, but as far as YA lit goes, it's not very good. And I’m waiting for the day YA authors write a trans guy character who isn’t a raging homophobe and misogynist, because I’m pretty sure it can be done.
  csoki637 | Nov 27, 2016 |
An excellent story for the questioning/trans teen. Realistic, sensitive, funny in parts, tragic in parts. 5 stars ( )
  MegAnastasi | Oct 26, 2015 |
I am J tells a story that is rarely told—the coming of age of a transgender teenager. In this case, it’s the story of J, a biracial (Latino and Jewish) transgender boy who is struggling to become comfortable with his gender identity while coming out to his family and friends.

J’s story features many aspects of “typical” young adult novels—the search for identity, the need for a sense of belonging, emerging values that conflict with those of parents, romance, the confusion of adolescent sexuality, the pressures of high school. J, however, also copes with the challenges of a gender identity that doesn’t match his physical body. Further frustrating matters, J has few resources he can use to educate himself about his predicament—until he runs away from home and encounters a marginalized community of others who, like him, are gender variant. Identifying the resources that can help him leads J to confront new issues—accepting and understanding those resources, finding a way to make them work for him, and developing the confidence to share his gender identity with those he loves.

Although some of the plot developments feel as though they’ve been lifted directly from some standardized paradigm of the challenges faced by most trans* youth (running away from home, confusion over sexual orientation, asserting control over one’s physical development, securing the resources for hormone therapy, finding a community, enduring bullying), Beam has woven these elements into a credible story about a protagonist who is complex, dynamic, and likeable. J is by no means perfect, but it is nearly impossible not to root for his success. ( )
  jimrgill | Oct 1, 2015 |
review to be posted here shortly
  BookSpot | May 18, 2015 |
I Am J. By Cris Beam. Little, Brown and Company / Hachette Book Group. 2011. 339 pages. $16.99 hbk. 978-0316053617. Grades 8-12.

J is struggling to articulate and come to terms with his gender identity, amidst the turmoil of a rocky friendship, a strained relationship with his unaccepting parents, and the looming threat of what to do with his life. His story is moving and well-written, offering a clear arc of growth in the face of many setbacks: J’s transition and journey of personal discovery are the focus, but they are gracefully expressed in the context of his relationships, his sense of self, and his aspirations for the future. Beam’s novel is a breath of fresh air in the sparse existing literature featuring transgender youth: the perspective of a transgender protagonist, especially one who is multiracial (of Puerto Rican and Jewish descent) and lives in a low-income urban environment, is an important one to feature for young adult readers whose experiences resemble J’s. Written in the third person, the story uses masculine pronouns to refer to J from the very beginning, showcasing the fact that J has always been a boy – even before (unnecessary) outside validation of that fact. Beam also provides a list of resources at the back, both for transgender teens and their families, an important addition for questioning or transitioning readers. I Am J marks an important step in YA literature with its creation of an authentic and relatable transgender protagonist: but it is the all-too-human story Beam skillfully weaves, rather than the issues the novel portrays, that makes the work a must-read for teens struggling to make their way in the world. Highly recommended. ( )
  tierneyc | Dec 4, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316053619, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2011: Growing up, J (born as Jennifer) always thought of himself as a boy stuck in the body of a girl. In elementary school J shunned his mom’s attempts to stick him in dresses and preferred the rough-and-tumble play of boys on the playground. Now, as a teenager, J’s Puerto Rican mother and Jewish father want him to think about his future and one day start a family, a possibility that makes J feel misunderstood and anxious about what lies ahead. So after an argument with his best friend, J strikes out on his own. He starts classes at a school for transgender and gay teens, but the complications resulting from who he is and who he wants to be prevent J from truly connecting with anyone. Fed up hiding inside layers of oversized t-shirts, J decides to explore testosterone treatments and embarks on a path that will test his patience, maturity, and commitment. Author Cris Beam’s extraordinary understanding of this often overlooked population shows in J--a complex, conflicted character whose emotional journey will resonate beyond the final page. Equally impressive is Beam’s vivid dialog, which illuminates relationships and situations that any teen who has felt isolated will easily relate to. Thoughtfully researched and written, I Am J is ultimately an inspiring novel about deciding to lead the life one is meant to--no matter at what cost. --Jessica Schein

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:30 -0400)

J, who feels like a boy mistakenly born as a girl, runs away from his best friend who has rejected him and the parents he thinks do not understand him when he finally decides that it is time to be who he really is.

(summary from another edition)

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