Book Review by Aarene Storms: I am J

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

By Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach Library, KCLS

I am J by Cris Beam

J has always felt misunderstood, and no wonder: his parents think he's a lesbian, his best friend Melissa think he's a girl, and his girlfriend Blue is pretty sure he's gay. But J knows that he is a boy, although he was born female. After doing some Google research, J learns about testosterone shots, and is convinced that taking "T" will fix everything in his life. But even after seeing a psychologist and starting hormone therapy, J learns that, as much as he loves them, the people in his life are still not perfect.

Readers will learn a lot about the lives of transgender teens as J attends a support group, enrolls at a school for transgender teens, and does his best to become a man in a society that isn't quite sure how to define him. The book is obviously issue-driven; however, the convincingly multi-ethnic and gender-diverse characters retrieve it from the "Afterschool Special" pile. Not everyone accepts J as he accepts himself, but there is hope.

Squeaky-clean: no cussing, no sex. References to body parts are polite. Sexual tension does not progress beyond a few exchanged kisses.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true. --R. Silvern


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