Friday, January 13, 2012

I Am J by Cris Beam

Hello dear readers. The Queen here with a touching, and poignant book by Cris Beam titled, I Am J. 

I'm so glad I came across this book in our library. When I first began reading, the story was slow and hard to grasp onto. But soon, I connected with J and his struggle to just be who he believed he was, despite what the world and his own body was telling him. This novel not only explores the feelings some transgender people may experience, but it gives hope and encouragement to seek out support and offers references at the end of the story on where someone dealing with this or similar issues can go for help.

Beam provides a good, solid story. But within that story, she offers a branch for those who might feel they are sinking in all the trials and mixed up emotions many who "just don't fit in" often struggle with.

The Queen encourages those who are questioning their sexuality, who are feeling that thing's aren't quiet right, to read this book. I also recommend this book to anyone who has a relation or friend dealing with these issues, as well.

The Queen also wants to say to those who feel they don't fit in to the "status quo" that you are not a freak. You are not alone. And you will find your way through this. Keep your chin up, young warrior! There will be  battles ahead, but I am confident that with the help of others who want to support, with writers who are courageous enough to write these challenging books, and with your own belief in yourself' that you can bravely face each and every battle that comes your way. Keep fighting. Keep on your journey. You will make it through.

And, dear readers, if you have found other books that speak to the LGBT community, please, please leave a comment with the title or reference for those who may pass through, that they might gain a bit of encouragement for thier journey.

Thank you, and happy reading,
The Queen

Book Title: I Am J
Author:   Cris Beam 

Book Information
Publisher and date: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (March 1, 2011)
Reading level: Young Adult
Book Info: Hardcover: 352 pages
Genre: Realistic fiction
ISBN: 978-0316053617

 • Junior Library Guild Selection, 2011

• Kirkus, Best Books for Teens, 2011
• Nominated for Best Fiction for Young Adults, by YALSA, the YA division of the American Library Association
• Amazon Best books of March, 2011

Book Theme:
Transgender kids, LGBT, Sexual Identity, Finding yourself
Cussing, mature topics, talk about sex, teen drinking, and smoking.

Book Summary
Growing up, J (born as Jennifer) always thought of himself as a boy stuck in the body of a girl. In elementary school J shunned his mom’s attempts to stick him in dresses and preferred the rough-and-tumble play of boys on the playground. Now, as a teenager, J’s Puerto Rican mother and Jewish father want him to think about his future and one day start a family, a possibility that makes J feel misunderstood and anxious about what lies ahead. So after an argument with his best friend, J strikes out on his own. He starts classes at a school for transgender and gay teens, but the complications resulting from who he is and who he wants to be prevent J from truly connecting with anyone. Fed up hiding inside layers of oversized t-shirts, J decides to explore testosterone treatments and embarks on a path that will test his patience, maturity, and commitment. Author Cris Beam’s extraordinary understanding of this often overlooked population shows in J--a complex, conflicted character whose emotional journey will resonate beyond the final page. Equally impressive is Beam’s vivid dialog, which illuminates relationships and situations that any teen who has felt isolated will easily relate to. Thoughtfully researched and written, I Am J is ultimately an inspiring novel about deciding to lead the life one is meant to--no matter at what cost. --Jessica Schein

There are no Activity Adventures for Young Adult books. However, there are many topics presented in this book that can be turned into discussion questions. 

Authors Arena

Author: Cris Beam
from website:
Cris Beam is an author and professor in New York City. She is the author of Transparent, a nonfiction book that covers seven years in the lives of four transgender teenagers, which won the Lambda Literary Award for best transgender book in 2008, and was a Stonewall Honor book. Her young adult novel, I am J, was released by Little, Brown in March 2011, and a nonfiction book about the state of foster care in the U.S. will be released by Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt in 2013. She teaches creative writing at Columbia University, New York University, The New School, and Bayview Women’s Correctional Facility. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia University and has received fellowships from the Point Foundation and the Corporation of Yaddo.


The Pen and Ink Blog said...

thank you. good review sorry about the lack of grammar. I am still getting used to the ipad.

Beth G. said...

I read _I Am J_ a while back and thought it was very good. There are quite a few good LGBT books out there. Lee Wind's blog ( is a great resource.

Nina Crittenden said...

This looks like a great book. You have a wonderful blog here, Jackie! :)

Joanna said...

Great review, I am so glad to slowly be discovering more excellent transgender books for teens out there. This sounds like a deeply sensitive look at a complex and conflictual topic. This is going on my TBR list.

billkirkwrites said...

Hi, Jackie. Glad I stopped by during the Comment Challenge. I'm enjoying seeing all the creativity everyone has put into their blogs---love the Castle theme. And you have a lot packed in here.

Jackie Castle said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by.
Beth, I've found Lee's website when I started the comment challenge and am glad to have found it. Thanks for posting his link.

It was a good book. I was glad I found it.