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I Am J Kindle Edition
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From School Library Journal
- Publication Date : March 1, 2011
- File Size : 650 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (March 1, 2011)
- ASIN : B0047Y171Q
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Print Length : 344 pages
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #559,962 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The writing sometimes dragged, and sometimes scenes sped by. J was also just not my kind of character. It's nice to sympathize and connect with a character you're reading about; I couldn't with J. While being a real character, he was very brash and expected people to understand his struggles when he didn't open up to anyone, and then got angry at them. I guess this is just realistic, but it's hard when the main character isn't a very nice person.
Maybe I had too high expectations because books about trans boys are pretty scarce, but I'll have to keep looking.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who wants a simple trans story. Some events are unrealistic, and others can be triggering. If you want a relatable story with a character you can connect to, don't spend your money on this book.
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.
I am J is a unique, ultra-modern coming-of-age novel whose highlights include a dynamic protagonist set against a vivid, real world with real-world issues.
J’s struggle truly became a riveting part of this novel, and the way his struggle to become the gender he desired became a mission that readers came to cheer for when J succeeded and sighed when he had to take a step back. Clearly, the FTM (female-to-male) transition process was well researched, and J’s hopes for his world to accept him as a boy come to represent all the struggles people face for others to accept them. The reader gets to see each stage: the unsure pre-transition J who hides his body with layers of shirts, the J who is sure of his gender and physically projects that to the world (and passes sometimes), and the J who begins the physical alterations of the transition. It gives a nearly complete curve and leaves the reader a bit more informed about the fascinating life. But, luckily, the book didn’t singularly define J by being a transgender person: he’s resilient, loyal, open to learn, and has a big heart. Also, he’s human. His relationships aren’t defined by being good or bad, but go through patches of both, namely with his mother, Melissa, and the friends he meets along the way.
Besides the issues it brings up, J’s world is also wonderfully painted simply in terms of the techniques the author uses. J is a multi-racial child, and many of his friends are as he is, so the diversity of New York is explored. As well, J’s rougher neighborhood and life was an interesting choice, and the reader not only got to learn about transgender life but also about a less read area of New York. The dialogue is top notch and completely realistic. There’s swearing, idioms, and just the syntax of the sentences make it so each line could seriously be said by real people, really pushing the story’s credibility. The writing itself was very frank, and the story didn’t leave out bits and pieces because someone might feel uncomfortable. It leaves the reader satisfied by the end, and a bit more empathetic toward the transgender people community.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a great piece of fiction including a well-made protagonist and a setting that isn’t as heavily explored, and/or want to dabble into the still-on-the-rare-side LGBTQ fiction, I Am J is a great choice.
Top reviews from other countries
(P..s. I really only have one bad thing to say, and that is, if you are trans or questioning your gender and taking advice from this book, DO NOT BIND WITH BANDAGES. J does this as a substitute for buying a proper chest binder and it isn't really explained, but this is very, very dangerous. The bandages will get tighter every time you breathe in and can cause permanent damage to your ribs and back, which will stop you from binding anyway. You can get a real binder from somewhere like Underworks or Gc2b, which are specifically designed for guys who want to flatten their chest. If you can't afford to buy one, look for an LGBT support group in your city or on the internet, because they are always doing binder givaways. But please, please, don't use bandages.)
After having finished reading I am J, on reflection, I began almost as much to pity those among us who live in a dismal, fixed, binary world. It must be pretty traumatic to learn – if they ever can – that nature, and life, is far more complicated that just ‘male OR female’, ‘black OR white’ or ‘good OR bad’ with no nuances or alternatives and no conduit for transition. Well done, Cris for successfully conveying in fictional form the challenges that face our sclerotic, (hopefully) post-religious societies in allowing all individuals to be what they are, or even just want to be. A great and ultimately uplifting read.