Free Best I Am JAuthor Cris Beam –

It s taken me months to write this review because I wanted it to be worth reading Transgender representation in YA is such a delicate matter and I wanted to contribute something than my usual yeah, so it was pretty good commentary.Here goes.I keep waiting for the day when a YA character will be incidentally trans, when the story will be about falling in love or solving a mystery and the protagonist just happens to be transgendered This still qualifies as a problem novel , but it is absolutely a step in the right direction I might even go so far as to call it the Annie On My Mind for transgendered youth with everything that implies.My biggest beef with this novel comes from my own jaded adult perspective J spends a good portion of the book complaining, If only then everything would be perfect If only his parents understood, if only he could kiss Melissa, if only he could take testosterone His view of the world was rather na ve and limited, despite his rather progressive friends and surroundings.The general tone of the novel was one of I am not going to impart to you, the ignorant straight gay reader, what it means to grow up transgendered This is how it feels and don t you see that I am no different from you well, except that I am trapped in the wrong body and isn t obvious how awful that is BUT honestly, that tone is inescapable in problem novels So let s put that aside for a moment.Excusing the slightly pedantic tone, I think Beam did a nice job of bringing home the point that being trans is not a CHOICE Below is a sampling of quotes to give you an idea of what you are in for And, of course, there was an actual story to be had in the process of discovering who she is, a boy calls his entire life into question friends come and go, family is supportive and not, life is hard and he slowly makes his way along How could he explain It was explaining the blood moving through his veins It was constant, definite, nothing he controlled or chose You could put all kinds of muscle and skin on top, and then add clothes and tattoos and makeup and hats, but nothing would change the blood When had he run from a fight before Did becoming a boy mean becoming a pussy J wanted to know, than anything, what it would feel like to be a guy kissing a girl Not a girl pretending to be a guy, or a girl kissing a girl Just a regular guy, on a regular day, copping the moves on a regular girl. Actual rating 2.5 starsI have mixed feelings about this book Which seems to be a common thing in books I have read recently Huh There definitely is some good in this book Firstly, hooray for diversity Transgender people are so underrepresented in books, TV and other media, so it s wonderful to finally see them getting some representation I also thought Blue is an interesting character, although she s a minor character But she did have some potential And I guess the writing s not too bad Sometimes it felt flat, but it wasn t annoying.There were a lot of things I didn t like though J is just not an interesting character He has nothing that makes him stand out Also, he acts like an asshole sometimes For instance, in the first or second chapter, J is at a party and another guy comes up to him and starts talking about a girl who is doing sexual things for money upstairs This other guy is concerned for her and thinks they should intervene, but J doesn t give a damn and calls her a stupid ass bitch or something And then J is all confused when the guy gets mad at him Dealing with hard stuff is not an excuse to be an asshole So, I just didn t particularly like J I felt sorry for him, but I didn t truly care Also, all of the side characters are so boring, with the exception of Blue I just didn t care about anyone There is also a lack of direction in the plot Nothing is happening, really And, this is a minor thing that didn t affect my rating, but I just have to say I really hate the cover.Overall, this wasn t a bad book and I applaud the inclusion of a transgender character not as a minor, side character but as the protagonist But it definitely had a few flaws So, I d say 2.5 stars Also, this is not the author s fault but it s something I d like to rant about.So, you know how on the back of a book, usually there s a section called Praise for insert book title here Well, in Praise for I am J , one of the quotes praising the book uses an offensive slur against transgender people The exact quote isUntil I am J came along, I didn t know I d been desperately lacking a tr nny Holden Caulfield in my life Smart and sensitive, but with just the right amount of rage bubbling over, J is an inspiring and courageous ambassador for any twenty first century kid trying to figure out who and what he or she or anything in between is in this world. The quote is complimenting a book about a transgender character, yet it uses a slur the word in bold that is offensive to many people How did NO ONE catch and fix this mistake Maybe I m overreacting although I saw other reviewers addressing it, so perhaps not , but I find that extremely upsetting and I think that s NOT okay Again, that is not the author s fault at all, but it really upsets me. An Inspiring Story Of Self Discovery, Of Choosing To Stand Up For Yourself, And Of Finding Your Own Path Readers Will Recognize A Part Of Themselves In J S Struggle To Love His True Self Hola, Jeni J Spun His Stomach Clenched Hard, As Though He D Been Hit It Was Just The Neighbor Lady, Mercedes J Couldn T Muster A Hello Back, Not Now He Didn T Care That She D Tell His Mom He D Been Rude She Should Know Better Nobody Calls Me Jeni AnyJ 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 Family, From His Friendsfrom 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 An Inspiring Story Of Self Discovery, Of Choosing To Stand Up For Yourself, And Of Finding Your Own Path Readers Will Recognize A Part Of Themselves In J S Struggle To Love His True Self I Am J is the story of J born Jennifer as he struggles against the social definition of gender When I first heard of this novel, I was immediately interested a struggle between one s true identity and the identity given at birth I thought it would be a fascinating read It was The story was interesting and the writing was well done.But I didn t connect to the characters I couldn t empathize with J, and I don t think that it s because I m not transgendered I have read several books where the main characters are everything that I am not, and I still managed to connect with them I thought I would be able to connect on an emotional level, but the story is not emotional It is a cut and paste of what process a transguy has to go through to become physically a man and the struggles he faces along the way Fascinating read, and undeniably well written, but there was no emotional connection.I pitied J and the issues he dealt with, but I didn t feel his pain The other characters in the story didn t evoke any sort of reaction either They were all missing something human They just didn t feel like real people They felt like soap opera characters with melodramatic lives.I expected something spectacular, but the story just didn t deliver. There are not many novels that are written for the NYC teens of color about issues of gender Beam offers us a chance to introduce to teens the complexities of indentity, the ramifications of lying, and the integrity that is built when one is true to oneself This is a great read for the student with the hoodie on who sits in the back corner of the library, talking to no one, but always peering with one eye out towards the world, watching, wondering if anyone notices his her stare The overweight teen would like this book, often feeling out of touch with his her body, not wanting to indentify with their outward appearance, wanting to break free of the confines of skin, and yet, learning that there is a process that comes a long with change, and attaining this goal is sometimes met with great difficulty.I could go on about the points of this book that were surprisingly precious, but do not want to give any spoilers Read it, show your friends, and fellow librarians Quit after one chapter 27 pages.That s a new record for me.And I m really sad right now because I SO badly wanted to read and relate with the main character someone who knows what it s like to question gender identity and put it to words on a page I wanted a glimpse into a life that could have been my own if I wasn t so closeted.But it s a little hard to relate when they are a huge jerk J was just so grumpy and now I m grumpy and rawr I don t want to be kindred spirits any.It s killing me to have to write a negative review for a book with progressive themes and such a lovely cover omg just look at that cover but I have to be honest.Let s go back to the start.J is a quiet guy Being antisocial is acceptable, but he seemed to crutch on transphobia when it was his personality that the other characters responded to Maybe they were phobic, but there was no confirmation They never said anything offensive So it was a little bit of a quick draw to call it prejudice instead of you know taking responsibility for what he was saying Here is an example there was an early scene where a guy at a party expressed concern for a girl who was selling sex to a bunch of guys First J zoned him out and made an inappropriate comment about how that was cool He went so far to actually wish he could have been one of the guys buying a blowjob from her Uh Wow Yay prostitution I thought he was crushing after the other girl THEN he makes a comment not caring about some dumb ass bitch out of nowhere It was unprovoked AND THEN he was shocked when the guy called him an asshole after He was all like, What went wrong seriously WHAT WENT WRONG Dude I just I can t see past that it was a part of J s introduction I wanted to walk away like the guy that he just angered.Oh, and J was homophobic There is nothing worse in the world then being mistaken as a dyke , right Ouch Lesbians hate this word, just for the record I get it J is a straight male And that s great and all, but was it necessary to express that at the expense of the gay community Answer transgender hate with homosexual hate It was offensive.Now, I did read a few reviews before shutting it just to make sure I wasn t giving up on a character with the potential to develop into a decent human being It was confirmed that he never changes and it sealed the deal Sorry c The first chapter or so I thought this was going to be a really lame book but it turned out to do a fine job not conforming or being too preachy I eventually got invested in the main character and couldn t see where exactly the story was going, which felt natural not forced Nice alternative YA book to the endless publication of fantasy lit and girls squealing over boys junk. Ever since I was little, I have always known that I was a girl I am definitely not a high maintenance type of woman, but I have an inner girly girl that will not quit I cannot imagine what my life would have been like had I been born in a body that did not match the gender that I felt myself to be I think it would be devastating.Yet, this happens to people all of the time They grow up feeling like their insides do not match their outsides And, in our current society, the outsides are what count To schoolmates, teachers, parents, relatives, strangers on the street Gender is not changeable, but fixed.I Am J is the story of a teen who identifies as transgendered He was born Jennifer, but has changed his name and hos outer appearance to J From the start, this story is well written and seems to capture the inner struggles and thoughts of J Every bit about J s thoughts and his need to be accepted as a teen boy ring true Just as a typical teen girl might try to match her teen role models, J watches young men to model his actions and reactions Even so, learning the postures of other men is not enough J wants to be a man.Even though he parents are somewhat supportive, they are not understanding J s situation completely They think or maybe even hope that J is a lesbian which is not true J is attracted to girls, but he is a boy He just has girl parts.But, he may not have girl features and parts for long, if he can help it He has heard of and researched hormone therapy, and desperately wants to turn eighteen so that he can start getting testosterone shots.Unfortunately, he s not eighteen And, problems at home are threatening to force J out of his family s apartment and onto the street He has a the support of his friend Melissa, but she doesn t completely understand what he s going through It isn t until J is away from his friends and family that he can truly transition to the man he wants to be the young man that he is As a teacher, there is nothing difficult and wonderful than helping teens to realize their visions of who they are and who they want to become With most teens, this process thinking about possible career paths and interests, with others the process is laborious and deep I have had the pleasure of working with a few teens who identify as transgendered As I stated in this intro to this post, I do not know what this feels like But, as an educator, there are lots of differences and situations that my students experience that I cannot identify with Even though I cannot identify with the feelings and emotions of these students, I do have a responsibility to help them to find a safe place within our school where they will feel comfortable and a post secondary experience that will allow them to transition to the next phase of their life comfortably This book will find a welcome space on my classroom shelves I can only imagine the comfort that it could bring to a transgender teen to know that they are not alone that there are others like them who might share similar feelings, thoughts, worries Or, this book could open the mind of many non transgender teens, those who don t know what it feels like to go through this transition Either way, I am happy to have read this book and cannot recommend it enough It is a must have for classrooms and a should have for others interested in learning about this topic, or in reading a good book Because, in the end, that s exactly what it is. Assorted comments the homophobia and misogyny was relentless and went 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 aboundIn 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. Identity is a daunting and controversial issue For me, the dichotomous nature of identity became very prominent and tangible during my teenage years As a teenager, I thought I knew so much about life, but at the same time, I felt so lost and confused I was trying to find an identity, a purpose any purpose but not knowing exactly where to look And in all honesty, I don t think this feeling of searching for a purpose truly ever leaves us I know I still feel it, even as an adult For all of us, identity and purpose just changes and bends and morphs into something new as we encounter different stages of life It s a natural part of being human In the novel, I Am J by Cris Beam, a seventeen year old transgender named Jenifer Silver he goes by the name J faces his personal struggle for identity and purpose J was born as a female, but all his life, he inherently felt male He began to realize this because even as a very young child he had male proclivities He was attracted to girls he wanted to wrestle with boys and he peed standing up But his emotions of feeling like a male were beyond these examples It was something visceral and profound almost indescribable But because of his parent s Manny and Carolina and society s strict definition of what it means to be male and female, J was never able to express what he felt If anything, he was encouraged to repress it The novel starts with J s intentional, but harmless kiss on the lips with his best friend Melissa, while she was sleeping This prompts Melissa s commonly dramatic behavior to come out once she realizes what was happening She ends up telling J to go home and then later the next day, sends him an email stating that they need a break from each other, even in spite of their long term friendship Though J was deeply hurt by this decision, it also fueled his desire to leave his comfortable environment, and take the risk that he s always wanted to take start his transformation into a full on male That is the where the novel really takes off The only negative thing I will say about the novel to get it out of the way was that in the beginning, I was slightly turned off by the didactic prose of Beam s writing But as I kept reading, I easily got over it because it became unnoticeable Beam s writing ended being great I love this book and here s why I Am J kept me interested When I wasn t reading the book, I was thinking about what J was planning on doing next, and how the book would eventually unfold But beyond this, there was so much to enjoy and appreciate The novel was so smart and educational and touching and relevant and thoughtful and many, many other great adjectives Right away, the one thing I appreciated was how Beam was able to educate the reader on the differences between being a masculine lesbian and a transgender She did a great job dissecting and explaining the physical and emotional differences something that I wanted and needed to know as a reader I also loved how Beam fully fleshed out the main characters I loved that J had a talent in photography and that Melissa had deep emotional issues and that Carolina was a contradiction This gave the book life and a relatable, necessary quality a quality that people needed to understand in order to empathize with the characters Beam easily accomplished this But the one thing I was most impressed with was what I was able to extract from the book and that was lessons in humanity Before I read I Am J, I predicted certain themes and elements that I thought would be in the book Themes like self discovery and situations relating to the harsh reality of discrimination and homophobia, which Beam did talk about But there was another layer of the book that I didn t predict, and was pleasantly surprised by I Am J illustrated the concept of beauty in conviction, and that the only person who can truly define who you are and what you can make of yourself is you I loved how J didn t give into the criticisms and judgments from his provincial environment or society s outdated values I also appreciated J s unwavering confidence and strength that helped him fight off the self loathing that can easily manifest from similar circumstances J was able to define his own self worth He did not let anyone else define who he should or should not be That s a lesson I love One last great lesson I extracted from the book is its advocacy of not judging a book by its cover For example, in the beginning chapters, I didn t like Melissa, but as I kept reading, I began to understand her character and And by the time she did her AMAZING dance recital, I loved her Side note Melissa s gutsy rawness in her dance scene was magnificent This novel definitely pushes people to see beyond the outside, the exterior, and to really relate and delve into the interior of a person before forming opinions When a novel is able to dig deep and open reader s eyes to something this great, then the book gets nothing but kudos from me.