Minli's Reviews > I am J

I am J by Cris Beam
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's review
Feb 20, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, young-adult, made-me-think, yay-diversity
Read in February, 2011

Issue novel, though not said to detract from its value. J was born female, but in his mind he has always been a boy. Not only is it about a transgender teen, J is also biracial. I am really happy to see this book in publication, because for the people who need it, it has the potential to change lives.

However, in terms of structure, it's written almost like narrative non-fiction... a factual account of the struggle/process, even interspersed with resources available to questioning teens. There's no real plot or arc or character development outside of the trans issue (hence an "issue novel"). Personally, I'm a bigger fan of novels where the main character is not defined by the internal gender/sexual orientation struggle, but has it as only one aspect of his or her identity. However, full disclosure that I've never had this experience, and for teens who have been dealing with this all their lives, they may not have had support network or freedom to think outside their physical disconnect.

I Am J is about a character's experience and struggle with identity. In that way, the title's perfect.

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