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I Am J
Cover of I Am J
I Am J
by Cris Beam
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A powerful and inspiring story about a transgender teen's struggle to find his own path — and love his true self.
J had always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a "real boy" and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible — from his parents, from his friends, from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding — it's time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

A powerful and inspiring story about a transgender teen's struggle to find his own path — and love his true self.
J had always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a "real boy" and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible — from his parents, from his friends, from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding — it's time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

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  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.9
  • Lexile:
    710
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
About the Author-
  • Cris Beam is the author of Transparent, a Stonewall Honor Book and Lambda Literary Award winner. She has an MFA in writing from Columbia University and teaches creative writing at Columbia, New York University, and The New School. I Am J is her debut novel. While living in LA, Cris volunteered at Eagles, a high school for gay and transgender kids. During the 2.5 years Cris taught there, she became deeply involved with a complex but marginalized tribe of transgender teens who had nowhere to go but the streets, one of whom became her foster daughter.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 31, 2011
    J was born Jenifer but has never felt female. Now on the verge of 18, he wants to be "more than just a hovering brain without a body," and starts to transition to male. He binds his breasts; attends a school for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth; and starts therapy so he can be approved for testosterone injections. Change isn't easy: afraid of his father's rejection, J runs away temporarily, and is anxious that the girlfriend who "saw him as a man" will find out that he is "trans." Readers will learn a lot about transgender teens as J does online research, attends a support group, and gets advice from friends who have transitioned; adult author Beam (Transparent) also includes a four-page list of resources. It is J's authentic voice that keeps this challenging story from simply being a problem novel. J is sure of his masculinity, yet vulnerable and confused, and his thoughts often come out in a tangled rush. Readers should be absorbed by J's struggle to prove "My gender's not a lie. I am not a lie." Ages 15–up.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2011

    Finally, a book about a transgender teen that gives its central character a life in which gender and transition matter but do not define his existence! J lives with his Puerto Rican mother and Jewish father in Manhattan's working-class Washington Heights neighborhood but plans to go to college to study photography. He tries not to think about gender and covers his body in thick layers of clothing, but he still tenses up when his mother calls him "m'ija" or classmates call him "dyke." After a heated argument with his best friend, Melissa, and a nearly physical fight at school, J starts cutting class. A Google search leads him to the idea of taking testosterone, and J leaves home, certain that his parents will not accept his choices. In his new haunts, including a seedy hotel, a downtown Starbucks, a trans support group and a high school for LGBT students, J encounters a vibrant and diverse cast of characters. Responses to J's transition vary from affirming (his trans poet classmate Chanelle's support) to heartbreaking (his parents' resistance) to maddening (Melissa's attempt to make art with J as her "muse"). Readers will likely come away agreeing with J: "Being trans wasn't special, and yet it was. It was just good and bad and interesting and fucked-up and very human, like anything else." (Fiction. 14 & up)

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • School Library Journal

    February 1, 2011

    Gr 9 Up-When J reached adolescence, he quit the swim team and began covering his body with extra clothes to hide the fact that he had been born a girl. At 17, J dreams of being accepted as a boy, binding his breasts and despising his monthly periods. His close friend, Melissa, a cutter, tries her best to understand and support him. His parents are confused, angry, and sad. He runs away from home and enrolls in a special school for gay and transgender teens, where he makes a helpful friend, a transgender girl. He also embarks on a shaky romance with Blue, a straight female artist who believes J is a boy and to whom he must eventually confess the truth. When he learns about testosterone and how it can help with his transformation, he is overjoyed, despite the obstacles he faces in getting the drug legally. Finally, J turns 18 and is able to begin getting his shots. He applies to and is accepted at college to study photography as a transgender young man, and holds out hope that one day his parents will accept him as well. Beam is the author of the informative adult book, Transparent: Love, Family and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers (Houghton, 2007). This novel is just as impressive. J is an especially vivid character, and the supporting characters are carefully drawn. Told in third person, the story is believable and effective due to insightful situations, realistic language, and convincing dialogue. Readers who relished Julie Anne Peters's Luna (Little, Brown, 2004) will snap it up.-Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO

    Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from December 1, 2010
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* Who is J? Though born a girl, he has known since early childhood that he is really a boy. But how to explain that to his parents, who simply consider him to be a lesbian, or to his best friend, Melissa, whom he loves but who rejects him angrily when he kisses her since she, too, regards him as a girl? Small wonder he is self-hating and angry and determined to mask the female part of his identity. But finally, sick of wearing bandages and multiple layers of baggy clothing to hide his body, he decides to take testosterone so hell look and sound more male. But he is only 17 and needs parental consent to do this. What to do? The solutionslike his lifeare complicated and difficult. But desperate determination and the faithfulness of friends may help him to find himself and the acceptance of others. Beam has written easily the best book to date about the complicated condition of being a transsexual teen, not only sharing important information that is artfully woven into the plot but also creating, in J, a multilayered, absolutely believable character whose pain readers will share. Perhaps most importantly, the author brings clarity and charity to a state of being that has too long been misunderstood, ignored, and deplored.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

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    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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