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I am J

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  6,955 ratings  ·  634 reviews
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.

"Hola, Jeni."

J spun. His stomach clenched hard, as though he'd been hit. It was just the neighbor lady, Mercedes. J couldn't muster a hello back, not now; he didn't care that she'd tell
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2011)
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Isaiah The story is more about J coming into his own body than any real plot. There are some plots like family situations that come to a head near the end of…moreThe story is more about J coming into his own body than any real plot. There are some plots like family situations that come to a head near the end of the book. Though they aren't the main plot like J's transition is. (less)

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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,955 ratings  ·  634 reviews

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Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
2/5 - Read for my young adult literature class.
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult, trans
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
Vone Savan
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Brooke Johnson
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a mild trans-education
Shelves: lgbtq, 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
May 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: lgbt
This book is dangerous.
I have a lot of problems with this book. A LOT of problems. And they'll be listed in a little bit, but my biggest one is that this book is actively dangerous to any trans guys who pick it up.
J at one point looks into binding, and finds info on how to make your own binder. Now, ALL homemade binders aren't going to be very safe, and binding has inherent risks in general, but the fact that this book gives clear instructions on how to make a binder out of ACE bandages is what
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
You know, I'm giving this four out of five stars, but really it's four and a half or four and three-quarters. The last little nagging lack of star comes from the fact that it feels a wooden in the prose and didactic... but in a really good way. And I can't even remember the last time I thought something like that. I'm passing my borrowed ARC along to a teen reader friend who's FTM, and I'm also hoping that he'll pass it on to some other young transguys he know for their reviews. I'm curious to s ...more
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtqia, young-adult, 2016, dnf
DNF @ 189 (chapter 9)

I am very disappointed that I stuck with this for so long. I really thought that it would get better, but obviously it didn't.

The writing style was jarring and uncomfortable from the beginning. If this had flowed better, I probably could have finished it. Even despite the unlikable main character. I picked this up because I wanted to understand different perspectives of the queer experience. This was my first book with a trans MC, and he just wasn't likable as a person. He a
Mira Meteo
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Mira by: Kat
Shelves: 2014, trans-stuff
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
Kaje Harper
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
I had incredibly high hopes for this book. A novel centered on the struggles of a transgender teen should have been a slam dunk for me. When I first read about I Am J my thoughts were MUST READ, must read NOW and I almost instantly ran out and bought myself a copy.

However, I found the writing trite and lacking for the most part. For a novel centred on such an unbelievably delicate and painful subject matter I found Beam's writing glossy at best. I wanted to truly feel for J, and there were time
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-ya, read-lgbtq
Interesting story told from the point of view of a girl who feels that he 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 he can't or is afraid to explain to people close to him how he feels, and isn't entirely clear on his feelings to begin with. Some people refer to him as lesbian, but that isn't the same thing. As the story progresses, J makes ...more
May 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Wart 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
May 25, 2016 marked it as dnf
Dnf'd at 75%

I just can't go on with this book. It's way too bland. But I'm still counting it as read since i read the majority.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
The book “I am J” by is a bit all over the place. There are a few plot holes and slip ups, everything seemed very… rushed . It is about a transgender male named J, or Jason, who is going through a rough time of exploring his gender. People were leaving him left and right, he didn’t know what to do. He tries his best to get the point across that he is now a male, and now an adult. The jumpy and rushed plot deters the reader away from the overall storyline and message.
The plot as a whole is very
Bronte Page
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-books, lgbtq
While I appreciate that this book provides some representation for trans masculine people. I personally really didn’t like this book.

Firstly, literally no character in this novel is likeable. The main character J is misogynistic and very homophobic. When someone at a party expresses concern about a younger freshman girl being taken advantage of J straight up just goes “I don’t care about some dumb-ass b***h.” He is also constantly going on about he doesn’t want to be mistaken for a lesbian (whi
Mar 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011, ya, arc
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
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
The main reason I am giving this book three rather than four stars is because I feel as though the time in my life during which I read this book lessened its impact on me. I think if I read this book my senior year of high school or even at the beginning of college, it would've made more of an impact on my life. However, as a seasoned queer reader, I still believe this story had a good deal to offer. It's so important for young queer readers, allies, and perhaps older readers who don't have much ...more
Jun 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: teach-it
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
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
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
Transgender is the subject of this finely written YA novel. Confusion at the beginning of the book gives credence to the confusion going through J's mind and body. ...more
I expected more... kind of liked it though
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
this book is terrible. I normally will read any book about a trans person because representation, but this is not the way they should be portrayed. it was uncomfortable reading this and not in the way of "oh the unknown is uncomfortable or uncomfortable can be a good thibg" it was just bad. if you are trans I especially recommend staying away from this book because there is a lot of triggering things that could be a potential in this book. I almost dnf'ed it multiple times because all of the foc ...more
Cassandra Prevatt
Imagine being someone who was assigned female at birth, only to realize they aren’t actually female. To feel more male than anything must be a complicated thing, and this book by Cris Beam goes in depth of how frustrating and confusing this time can be. It is a tale of self-discovery and determination.
In this book, a teen, who is questioning their gender, finds out about transgender reassignment surgery and testosterone and decides to pursue this way of life. His parents disagree and call him d
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
what are your thought on this book? 2 8 Dec 30, 2014 11:30AM  
YA LGBT Books: * August 2014 BotM 1 - I Am J *spoilers* 9 100 Aug 18, 2014 08:46PM  
What J thought of gays 3 52 Jun 09, 2014 03:24PM  
Does the book get better? 7 36 Jan 16, 2014 12:20PM  
My Story Book Club: Online Chat with Cris Beam, author of I Am J! 2 17 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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