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I am J

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  4,594 ratings  ·  468 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2011)
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Vone Savan
Identity is a daunting and controversial issue. For me, the dichotomous nature of identity became very prominent and tangible during my teenage years. As a teenager, I thought I knew so much about life, but at the same time, I felt so lost and confused. I was trying to find an identity, a purpose – any purpose – but not knowing exactly where to look. And in all honesty, I don’t think this feeling of searching for a purpose truly ever leaves us. I know I still feel it, even as an “adult.” For all ...more
Assorted comments:
—the homophobia and misogyny was relentless and went more or less unaddressed ("omg, don't call me a lesbian, ANYTHING but a lesbian, gross" "a bunch of guys are sexually exploiting a 14-year-old girl in the other room? I don't care about that stupid bitch" "how dare you compare it to rape when I start making out with my non-consenting best friend while she's sleeping" "I was only attracted to you because I must have known you were secretly a man inside" etc.)
—the main characte
Brooke Johnson
I Am J is the story of J (born Jennifer) as he struggles against the social definition of gender. When I first heard of this novel, I was immediately interested: a struggle between one’s true identity and the identity given at birth. I thought it would be a fascinating read. It was. The story was interesting and the writing was well done.

But I didn’t connect to the characters. I couldn’t empathize with J, and I don’t think that it’s because I’m not transgendered (I have read several books where
There are not many novels that are written for the NYC teens of color about issues of gender. Beam offers us a chance to introduce to teens the complexities of indentity, the ramifications of lying, and the integrity that is built when one is true to oneself.

This is a great read for the student with the hoodie on who sits in the back corner of the library, talking to no one, but always peering with one eye out towards the world, watching, wondering if anyone notices his/her stare. The overweigh
Haley  *Good friends are like stars* #LoveWins
Actual rating: 2.5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this book. Which seems to be a common thing in books I have read recently. Huh.

There definitely is some good in this book. Firstly, hooray for diversity!! Transgender people are so underrepresented in books, TV and other media, so it's wonderful to finally see them getting some representation. I also thought Blue is an interesting character, although she's a minor character. But she did have some potential. And I guess the writing's not too ba
Quit after one chapter. 27 pages.

That's... a new record for me.

And I’m really sad right now because I SO badly wanted to read and relate with the main character; someone who knows what it’s like to question gender identity and put it to words on a page. I wanted a glimpse into a life that could have been my own if I wasn’t so closeted.

But it’s a little hard to relate when they are a huge jerk. J was just so grumpy and now I’m grumpy and rawr. I don’t want to be kindred spirits anymore.

It’s killi
The first chapter or so I thought this was going to be a really lame book but it turned out to do a fine job not conforming or being too preachy. I eventually got invested in the main character and couldn't see where exactly the story was going, which felt natural not forced. Nice alternative YA book to the endless publication of fantasy lit and girls squealing over boys junk.
Kaje Harper
This is the story of J, who was born Jenifer, but who has always been a boy. As J moves through his senior year of high school, he becomes more and more convinced that he has to find a place to make a stand. He needs a way to reduce the dissonance between the guy he is, and the girl people see on the outside. Unfortunately, not only is it nearly impossible to tell the people around him how he feels, but they are also pretty certain not to accept what he's going through. This is J's story of comi ...more
This is the story of J, a trans boy. He's also Puerto Rican and Jewish, which makes this book different than most of the others in the LGBTQ subtopic in YA lit, which mostly focuses on white kids. (Can't have too many diverse issues at once, you know!) Is it the most interesting plot in the world? No. But the author, who, given her personal history and experience, knows what the hell she's talking about, does a great job of narrating an experience that I, by definition, cannot be empathetic to, ...more
Ever since I was little, I have always known that I was a girl. I am definitely not a "high maintenance" type of woman, but I have an inner girly-girl that will not quit. I cannot imagine what my life would have been like had I been born in a body that did not match the gender that I felt myself to be. I think it would be devastating.

Yet, this happens to people all of the time. They grow up feeling like their insides do not match their outsides. And, in our current society, the outsides are what
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Interesting story told from the point of view of a girl who feels that she is really a boy, and who wants to take testosterone and surgically change into a male. For anyone who doesn't understand what transgender means, this story will make it clear. J is frustrated because she can't or is afraid to explain to people close to her how she feels, and isn't entirely clear on her feelings to begin with. Some people refer to her as lesbian, but that isn't the same thing. As the story progresses, J ma ...more
Jeni was assigned the wrong gender at birth. In the sixth grade, Jeni starts going by J . Now a senior in high school, J knows he's transgender and wants to begin the transition to his rightful gender. We first meet J going to a party so his best friend Melissa wouldn't have to go alone. Since the party wasn't J's scene, it's not a great place to meet him. I felt the author through J tried to squeeze in as many facts about J and Melissa's family and friendship as possible. It felt forced and unn ...more
Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)
Wonderfully written and thought out, I Am J is certainly something that I'd recommend to others. There are few books out (that I'm aware of) that describe the thoughts and feelings of transgendered teenagers and it's good to see that there's one that's so authentic. This book really encapsulated how it must feel to be stuck in the wrong gendered body. J's thoughts and struggles seemed very real and it was interesting to see how his world and the people around him changed as he started his physic ...more
Jun 29, 2011 Nicole rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a mild trans-education
Shelves: lgbt-etc, ya
It’s taken me months to write this review because I wanted it to be worth reading. Transgender representation in YA is such a delicate matter and I wanted to contribute something more than my usual “yeah, so it was pretty good” commentary.

Here goes.

I keep waiting for the day when a YA character will be incidentally trans, when the story will be about falling in love or solving a mystery and the protagonist just happens to be transgendered. This still qualifies as a “problem novel”, but it is abs
Mar 02, 2011 Lawral rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: arc, ya, 2011
I was a little scared of this book. I knew that Beam had it in her to realistically portray the transgender experience, so my expectations were super high. I also knew that a book like this has the potential to be filled with well-meaning stereotypes in order to present the most inclusive picture: of trans folk, of Puerto Rican New Yorkers, of the dream of being a "real boy," and more. But my fears were unfounded; I loved this book. J really rang true to me as a character and as a transguy, and ...more
Chiara (delicate eternity)
I was not a huge fan of our main character, J. I understand that he was trying desperately to conform to what he thought was masculine attitude ... but some of his comments had me narrowing my eyes. Guys can have feelings, too *gasp* And being called a lesbian is not the worst thing in the world.

His relationship with his best friend was a little off putting, as well. She was only attracted to J when she thought of him as completely male. Guuurl, you're either attracted to someone or not. You can
Wart *Rainbows, beauty, and death* Hill
I was going to try to rate this, but I don't think I can.

I liked it. It's a good book and I'm glad of its existence, hopefully some trans youth are getting a lot out of it.

I think. A big issue for me was that a lot of it resonated too much. I had to stop every few chapters and take a break. It isn't that I'm a lot like J or that our situations are that similar, but similar enough that I had a hard time reading this.

But that's not a bad thing. It's still a good book and its existence is a good th
Aurora Dimitre
Okay wow this was tense.

I don't mean intense, though it got pretty intense at some points too, I mean, I would be reading and my shoulders would be all tensed up and I'd be chewing on my fingernails because wow is he going to be okay oh my god this is worrying oh my god oh my god oh my god.

This book follows J, a young transgender boy that wants to come out, that wants to get on testosterone, that wants to be how he's supposed to be . And it's so fricking tense, guys. Like, Jesus.

I really li
I picked up this book from a book seller at a teacher training a while ago. I read the back, and determined it would be a good book to keep in a classroom library. Within 17 pages, I realized I made a mistake. The main character is at a party and a party guest alerts him to a situation upstairs involving a young, female guest. His response was, "Look, I don't care about some dumb-ass bitch." Nope. I cannot support people who support sexual assault and treat women as less than human. Soon after, ...more
i am a masculine trans person, and i thought this book could have been wayyy better. First off, the character is very immature for his age. He's 17, but acts maybe 14. What near-adult takes 200 dollars and thinks they can run away in New York City and survive more than a couple days? That was just ridiculous. Then his very superficial relationships with different girls and the immaturity that comes with that is also frustrating. Then he is homophobic and thinks he has to be misogynistic in order ...more
This book was absolutely amazing. The issue of gender identity is very important to me and one I've always wanted to see more representation of in literature, particularly Young Adult. Cris Beam is a talented author and it's a testament to her writing skill that she manages to make the reader feel a strong sense of the gender dysphoria which J's been struggling with his whole life.
I've noticed many people complaining that the main character is a jerk. And they're right, he's a selfish, misogyni
This is a troublesome book for me. I wanted to love it, I wanted to rave about it, I wanted it to be a book that I recommend to my friends. I might still do so, but cautiously. J himself drove me crazy. He refused to reach out to people, appearing to think that people intuitively understood what he is thinking and feeling. Toward the end of the book, it seemed to work a little better for me. J was working on other interests and interacting with more people. I still want to alternately hug and st ...more
Shen Xu
I know it is nice to read something about transgendered youth as it is unrepresented and little written. But it is not a genre thing. Maybe GBLT literature should not be a genre, and should just be part of all the other fictions and non-fictions.
This is besides the point why I gave it two stars though. There is not much of a story, just your usual annoying young adult drama. In certain way it is good, because it doesn't really matter what gender you are, a teenager is a teenager. But what irrita
To be honest, I felt like the author gathered facts and mathematical averages on trans men and put them all in one book and one character. It made for a very unorganized read, not creating an artistic whole or focusing on one central issue for the main character, but creating an "average trans man in his late teens" story, adding stuff just because it's a thing that happens to some trans people or trans men. I'm not articulating this very well, I'm sorry, but perhaps you get the poin
Julie Decker
J is a trans guy whose parents insist on calling him Jennifer. With a rough family life and an identity crisis bearing down, J feels he needs to escape, especially when his friend Melissa makes some comments that suggest nobody can understand him. He goes out dressed fully as a boy and he meets a girl--a girl who's straight and sees him as a boy--and looks into taking the next steps to be seen by the world the way he sees himself. As he enrolls at a school for LGBT kids (finding not too many of ...more
Henry Acosta
Feb 07, 2014 Henry Acosta rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Henry by: Kat
Shelves: 2014, poor, lgbt
My friend Katherine was reading this book, and being greatly involved in LGBT+ rights, I simply had to pick this book up, seeing as how little queer representation there is in our media. However, the first thing I noticed about this book before starting was how on the back of the book with reviews, a reviewer casually used a transphobic slur -- how that made the cut is beyond me -- and I took that as a sign of things to come. And, man, I probably should have listened.

First of all, the writing. T
Christina G
I've generally avoided any YA fiction with trans characters, because I'd heard pretty negative things about the 5 or 6 available titles. But then a few thoughtful people on the internet wrote reviews saying that I Am J was different, and that it actually felt realistic, complex, and sensitive.

I still had my reservations going into this book, knowing that it was a white(?) cisgender woman writing about a biracial trans teen guy. But I ended up feeling pretty good about it by the end (of course, I
Mar 28, 2011 CD rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everybody
This is the first book I have read Other than Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil that had a transgender character. J is the main character and is a transmale, although physically female. I found this book to be compelling and real. The struggle that J goes through, but his internal conflict, the familial conflict and the problems that arise with J's relationships with peers are told in such an unflinching and forthright manner that they seem honest, real and natural. I did not get that air ...more
I was looking forward to this book, because I heard it was much better than some of the other books out there that have trans people as major characters (eg, Luna, Parrotfish, Almost Perfect, etc.) Unfortunately, I'm still left hanging. I'm yet to be completely satisfied by fiction concentrating on trans characters.

The author of I Am J has worked closely with transgender teens, and has family whom are trans, as well. This has worked to her advantage. The information in the book is solid, and, sp
An intense and necessary novel. While I am cisgendered, this certainly feels like an authentic story of one transgender teenager, and Beam is careful to point out in an author's note that this is a fictional story written by a cisgender author, albeit one based on extensive personal research.

I loved that, unlike many other LGBT novels, the angst and main conflict in this doesn't stem from J questioning his identity and freaking out over it - from page one J knows that he should have been born in
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
what are your thought on this book? 2 3 Dec 30, 2014 11:30AM  
YA LGBT Books: * August 2014 BotM 1 - I Am J *spoilers* 9 66 Aug 18, 2014 08:46PM  
What J thought of gays 3 38 Jun 09, 2014 03:24PM  
Does the book get better? 7 33 Jan 16, 2014 12:20PM  
My Story Book Club: Online Chat with Cris Beam, author of I Am J! 2 13 Jan 28, 2013 05:00PM  
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CRIS BEAM is a journalist who has written for several national magazines as well as for public radio. She has an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University and teaches creative writing at Columbia and the New School. She lives in New York.
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“People will see whatever they want to see. Parallax.” 8 likes
“I guess it's about what you have to give up to gain something else...Did you always have to give something up for a gain?” 7 likes
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