Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: I Am J by Cris Beam

I Am J by Cris Beam
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Genre: YA

The Story: (from Hachette) "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 anymore.

J 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 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.

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.

My Review:  I Am J is an emotional,  moving story of one boy's struggle to be who he really is. Born as a female, J has known for years that his outward appearance is a lie. He hides himself inside of clothing that covers his female body and after he loses his best friend, Melissa, J decides he's ready to be the man he's always known he was.

J constantly battles the label of being gay and he's more than a little frustrated by this. He can't understand why people don't see him for who he really is. His parents don't truly know the depth of what's going on with him because he refuses to talk to them about it. Not that talking to them about it would be an easy thing, of course. He doesn't always handle situations with his parents in the most mature way but you have to remember despite the challenges that he's facing, he's still only seventeen.

J's parents were a hard part of the story for me. It was clear that they loved him and wanted him to be happy but it was also clear that much of what they wanted for him was what they wanted for themselves. It was almost as difficult to watch J's parents grow into acceptance as it was to watch J. Relationships prove to be a struggle for J in every aspect: his parents, his best friend, his new-found girlfriend. It's easy to see where J goes wrong at times but you know he has to learn these lessons for himself.

I found myself strongly connected to this book and the message it provides to young (and old) readers. I have never personally known someone (that came right out and said it anyway) that was transgender. I cannot imagine the pain and difficulty they must face each and every day by hiding who they truly are. I wanted to reach into my book and hug J more than once and I have come to think of him as a real person.

This was an eye-opening book for me and I'm so very grateful I've had the honor of reading it. J's life is not an easy one but it is inspiring and very much worth reading.

My Rating:

This review was part of the I Am J Blog Tour with The Teen {Book} Scene. Click the graphic below to follow along with the rest of this tour.


  1. I am currently reading this. I think Beam has done a great job of involving the reader emotionally. I'm not very far into the book, but I'm finding a wonderfully written book so far.

  2. @Booklady, I was surprised at how quickly I was sucked into this story. I was worried I wouldn't be able to connect but it was much easier than I thought and I loved the book all the more for it.

  3. I might just pick this up. I have a friend I've known for over 20 years who is now transgendered and he says he has a hard time finding people to trust because not everyone understands what it's like to be born in the wrong body. Thanks for the review!

    Also, I like your blog so much, I've awarded you the Lovely Blog Award via my blog here . Happy reading and blogging!



Related Posts with Thumbnails