I Am J

I Am J

by Cris Beam
4.4 20


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I Am J by Cris Beam

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316053600
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 11/13/2012
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 108,379
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

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.

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I Am J 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
A young man who calls himself 'J'. In high school but struggling to find out who he is and his place in the world. His parents only make his life more stressful. Pressure to make the right choices and decisions seems to come from everywhere. Friends try to understand and help. Can J trust anyone? Oh, and J was born Jennifer, a female. The body he inhabits does not reflect the reality of his life. He is a boy. Add to all the other pressures of adolescence that J is transgendered. Female to male. Not gay/lesbian. Not a phase. Is there no one to turn to. He feels so alone. From a composite of transgendered teens the author has worked with, Cris Beam delivers a truthful, emotionally wrenching and totally believable look into a heretofore mostly unexplored world. J is bright, resourceful, determined and driven. With only himself to rely upon, he navigates school,family and friends (even a girlfriend) in his quest to become as God truly made him, a male. I recommend this book to anyone seeking an insight into the lives of transgendered teens (FTM), parents, teachers and counselors, clergy and most importantly teens themselves. Not only trans teens, but all teens. It truly is an eye opener and will trigger many areas for discussion.
Lawral More than 1 year ago
I was a little scared of this book. I knew that Beam had it in her to realistically portray the transgender experience, so my expectations were super high. I also knew that a book like this has the potential to be filled with well-meaning stereotypes in order to present the most inclusive picture: of trans folk, of Puerto Rican New Yorkers, of the dream of being a "real boy," and more. But my fears were unfounded; I loved this book. J really rang true to me as a character and as a transguy, and his experiences, though not universal (thankfully not everyone has to move out or change schools in order to transition, though some undoubtedly do), were realistic. I Am J was everything I hoped it would be. 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! I loved I Am J, and I applaud Beam for taking on the issue of transitioning in the context of cultural and familial expectations, and the fallout from not meeting those expectations, in an accessible and authentic way. Not to mention that she wrote a pretty great story of a teen trying to find his direction and place in the world, regardless of all the issues that J has to deal with. I think this is a must buy for libraries serving youth; it's Luna for the guys. Book source: ARC provided by the publisher. *Quotes and page numbers are from an uncorrected proof and may not match the published copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was facinated by the title whn i saw this at my library. I checked it out and fell in love with the book. I can feel for J while also understanding how his friends might feel, just by reading. Very powerful.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
J has always known he was different. Now almost eighteen, he has decided it is time to commit to who he really is and make the fact clear to his parents and his best friend, Melissa. J was born Jeni Silver. His parents have always seen him as their little girl, but J knows deep inside that though his body may be female, he is truly male. Transgender to be exact. After spending most of his life attempting to ignore the betrayal of his body, J is determined to take the steps necessary to become his true self. He wants his parents and his best friend to come to terms with and accept him as transgender, but even if they don't, he will find a way to get the injections of the testosterone that will lower his voice, stimulate facial hair growth, and help him develop the male attributes that will make him be the person he believes he truly is. Author Cris Beam takes a difficult subject and creates a book that will help readers understand the physical and emotional turmoil of one transgender boy. She is able to explain J's gender frustration from an early age, his secret crush on his long-time friend, the constant jeers and taunts from fellow high school students, and the fear of disappointing his parents, who sacrificed much for their daughter. Readers will experience J's self-discovery, his courage, and his determination in facing the long, hard path before him.
JimRGill2012 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's an okay book. Makes me think of my trans friend who just so happens to be called J, too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absoublutely loved it. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am lost!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a good book that really helped me see into strange and complicated world of transgender teens.
DustinDJ More than 1 year ago
Wish it would had ended differently, but other then that it was pretty good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WinterStrawberryStarz More than 1 year ago
The end was not meet to my expectations but the starting pulls you in her mind of a normal transgender but then during the middle it carefully pieces her feelings for the world and her needs, lust for a boys body. I love Cris Beam, their writing opens the eyes of people going through this. It helps to realize people that want what J wanted with parents like hers can carefully get their wanting to be trans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just to let u know iluvvideo, j was born a girl but then starts feeling like a male later on. He/she later decides to have a sex change. The reason y u were probally gettin confused is that in the book, they call J a he wen he was a girl. Try to get ur facts right next time. Definetly not recommended for children under the age of 12. Has lots to do with sex. Really really really good book tho.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*stomps foot* but idk if its worth $10