Friday, June 24, 2011

I Am J by Cris Beam

Title: I Am J
Author: Cris Beam
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Acquired: Received free for an honest review
Age Group: Young Adult
Grade: 83% B-

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 Thoughts::
Whenever I read a book that talks so deeply about something that a lot of people struggle with that I don't, I always feel a little bit bad reading the book. Like maybe I'm not really understanding J's feelings, or getting all that I can out of the novel. On the other hand, I really like reading books that deal with struggles I've never had to go through because it gives me a little bit of perspective on how some people live.

This is the first book that I read that featured a transgender teen as the main character and I really liked it. For some people this might be a culture shock or whatever, but it is nothing new. I had a good time reading J's character. You feel like your in the moment, frustrated with him because no one understands how you feel or just won't except you. This is a book that is mostly character driven and I think it worked nicely. J was going through a very transitional time in his life, so there was a lot going on with his family, friends, and feelings.

The other characters were a swell backdrop to J's story. They all played their respective roles in which we could see J interact. I found that they all also gave J different ways to solve his problems, but eventually he learned that he had to decide things himself and do what felt right for him.

The only issue that I had was the location that the book was set. I have a problem getting into books that take place in the city. I'm not sure why, but I'm guessing its because I've never lived in a big city, which added another dimension of the book that I couldn't identify with. That is how I felt for a lot of the book, I felt bad FOR J, but I didn't feel bad WITH J. This book made you think of yourself and how your for feeling than the character.

Overall I think that I Am J is a book that is not only helpful for those struggling with their gender, but those just struggling to figure out who they are.

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