Wednesday, January 25, 2012

8. I Am J - Cris Beam

2011, Little Brown &  Co.
340 pgs.
Written for YA

Setting:  Contemporary NYC
OSS:  Being born male in a female body and dealing with that, silently, for your whole life....that's where we meet J at the beginning of his senior year. 
1st sentence/s:  "I could smell the hostility, the pretense, the utter fakeness of it all before they even climbed the last set of stairs."

What an intriguing, informative read!  J, born Jenifer to a Puerto Rican mom and a Jewish dad, has always known that he was a boy, born with the wrong body.  Now in his senior year, and never having discussed this with anyone, he is ready to become the person he feels he has always been.  Dressing in layers of clothing to hide body parts that he feels shouldn't be there, speaking very little, so that his soft voice is not detected, have to be changed.  But he has to figure out a way to tell his parents, and he's afraid of their reaction.  Even though they've always seen the boy, they still consider him their daughter.  He loves them.  He so badly wants and needs their understanding. 

His only friend is Melissa, who seems to understand him, but who he's never discussed his predicament with.  Other than that he has no friends, and no one to talk to. Until now.  He's studied up.  He's learned about testosterone injections. And then he discovers a school that is FOR kids like him.  He makes a friend, reluctantly talks to a counselor, joins a support group.....and finally makes friends.  Friends that understand him, friends that he can talk. 

This was an intriguing, thoughtful read.  Cris Beam adds a wonderful afterward and a list of sites and books and information that would be helpful to any transgender teen.  She's volunteered at a school similar to J's, she is foster mom to a transgender teen.  She knows what she's talking about, which makes this even better.

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