Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review: I Am J by Cris Beam

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages

PublisherLittle, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (March 1st 2011)
Language: English
Source: Purchased from Power Books
First Sentence: "J could smell the hostility, the pretense, the utter fakeness of it all before they even climbed the last set of stairs."
Favorite Line from the Book
"I wanted to be like you when I was little.  This isn't your fault.  It's just who I am.  I hope one day we can talk again." 

Book Summary:  

"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.
This is the very first time that I have read a novel about transgender. J is the main character in this book was born a girl but right from the start felt like a boy. The novel is honest, realistic, and doesn’t contain too much drama which I appreciated. It tackles the struggles of being a transgender, of how they are living amidst a world where judgments are given to anyone who doesn’t fit in or who is different. This novel is all about acceptance. J had struggled all his life. Being the only child, there were expectations which were set by his parents right from the start. He only has one friend, Melissa, who he has been in love with since they were children. J went to school and tried to fit in, only to just accept the fact, that no matter what he does, he simply would be the “different” one… someone who’s in between. And yet, he is determined to break free of the norms, of taking charge of his life and his individuality. I loved how this book also covered growing up, finding ones direction, and discovering the truth about each of the characters. Acceptance about the individual differences is the major theme of this book. I applaud the author for writing such a realistic, well-written novel and delving into a topic so different from the usual books we have these days. I will recommend this book to those who haven’t read anything like it before.

Here's the fan-made book trailer which is also found in Cris Beam's website:


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