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I Am J Hardcover – March 1, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
But I did have a couple of problems. I found it hard to believe that J, who has been looking around on the internet for information and support since he was eleven, hadn't heard about T (testosterone injections) or a (chest) binder until he was seventeen. I'm willing to let that go as it allows the reader to learn about these things at the same time that J does. I don't think it would have been such a problem if the book wasn't so obviously written by someone who, like J's support group leader, "talk[s] about the 'gender binary' and 'those of trans-masculine identification' as easily as reciting the alphabet" (243).* Beam is a very very knowledgeable woman, as evidenced by her previous work of non-fiction, Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers. She seemed to have a difficult time balancing her wealth of knowledge with the naiveté of her narrator.
This may look like more criticisms than praise, but it's really not!Read more ›
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.
His family is one of the biggest stumbling blocks, and trying to stay close to them when they don't understand what he's going through is a theme that crops up throughout the book, something he continues to navigate. J starts to create a new "family" when he starts at a new school and starts to meet fellow transgender people. He meets Blue, one of the most fascinating characters in the book (and not just because she has blue hair and paints exclusively in shades of blue), who becomes his girlfriend.
I didn't always like everything J did, but I thought he was a fascinating character, and as he matures, he figures out how to have empathy for those around him, like Melissa, and seek out the help he needs to be the man he wants to be. He realizes that his transition is extremely important to him, but that photography is also his passion, and that entirely abandoning his previous life wasn't necessary to lead him on the path he needed to be. Beam doesn't try to paint J as the "perfect" trans teenager (is there such a thing?) but as a human one who is figuring out who he is, who his role models are, and where he fits in at school, home and in the world.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a teacher, I'd say a more appropriate age range is 7th grade and up.
I love J's voice and the perspective of a Latina growing up as... Read more
great book. if u have a transgender person in your life this is a good window into what their life may be likePublished 6 months ago by Patricia ault
This book had me feeling all kinds of emotions.From being mad at different characters,to being happy,and almost crying.Definitely a great read!Published 7 months ago by Katie
All is good....bought this as a gift for a teen from a Christmas "Giving Tree". It is what she asked for, so I am sure she will love it.Published 20 months ago by Patricia Coleman
I Am J is a story about the struggle of a teen who just doesn't seem to fit well in their body. Like most YA books, there is a lacking of depth and description. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Le'Chel
This is my new favorite book. It's quite amazing. The only thing is you can get binders for 10$, in the book it said something like 60$ I think. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Jason Ampora