Monday, March 7, 2011

Review: I Am J by Cris Beam

I Am J by Cris Beam
Published by Little Brown
Date Published: March 1, 2011
Rating: 4/5
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.
Before I say how much I liked this book, I'll tell you a little more about the book. J (born Jenifer Silver) was different. A guy stuck inside of a girl's body. He thought like every other guy except for a few things. He has all lady parts and even has periods. He lived his entire life being a "girl" and even his parents raised him as their "little princess" but he knew it was all wrong.

One day, he finally heard the term "transgender" and began reading about it. That's what it turned out he was! But by wanting to become a guy even more, he knew he would be hurting everyone he ever knew. As he sets out to discover himself and find out what he really desired in life, he meets others like him who teach him and befriend him, he falls in love and even kisses a girl, and he learns to live outside of his own comfort zone.

This book really took my breath away a few times while I was reading it. It was my first book reading about a trangender character and yet I felt sorry and ashamed for what J had to go through on a daily basis with all the ridicule and bantering. Cris' writing really opened my eyes to an entire lifestyle I had only heard but never really read about.

It was extremely gripping each time J tried to explain what was going on within him and one of the saddest moments in the book was a flashback to a fight between J's parents that he accidentally overheard. They were yelling about what J really was and his dad just couldn't come to terms with it and became angry about it. This was really a turning point in the book when I recognized that going through this, it not only affects himself, but his parents, friends, and future partners!

J's character was at first hard to like because of all the things he was going through. I just felt sorry for him. But as he gained confidence in himself and knew who he really was, I began to root for him to follow his heart and truly do what he wanted to do, despite his parents' not understanding. Melissa was easy to like though she had her moments of anger fits (but what girl doesn't?!). His parents, Carolina and Manny, play a big role in the book and in his decision but it was hard to like them when every time he wanted to tell them, they called him her or daughter. It really broke my heart. The other semi-minor characters, Blue, Zak, Chanelle, and Phillip, all play distinctive parts in J's life and I really did like each of their roles!

Cris did such an amazing job with this book and I want to thank her for writing on such a tough and seldom mentioned subject! These issues and problems anyone in the LGBT community face every day really do need to stop. We all are equally human and deserve to be treated as such. I hope you guys get a chance to read this book. I promise it will change you in some way!

This book was received from the publisher as part of the blog tour with Teen Book Scene.

-Reviewed by Jeremy


  1. Great review! I'm taking an LGBT Literature class right now and I'll have to let my instructor know about this one. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks!

  2. I'm getting ready to read this now once I finish up Clarity (just 30 pages left!). I'm really excited to read it and now even more so after your review!