Monday, March 28, 2011

I Am JI Am J by Cris Beam

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 or fakeness or preachiness not one might from a novel that is ostenstibly telling us about what it is like to be a transgendered teen.

I cannot imagine the heartache. There is one particular scene that take place midway through the book when J is having what he thinks is a heart to heart with his father. They are both talking about college and dreams and being what you want to be, then he father destroys it all inadvertantly by saying "You'll always be my baby girl." He has no idea how hurtful these words are. Each family member is in their own cocoon afraid to share anything. J is afraid to make a connection with anyone. It is no way to live.

It really makes one think about how difficult LGBT teens have it in school and how they need books for role models and they need librarians to have those books available for them. They need adults to read those books and at least get a small feeling for the confusion and pain they are going through.

Those kids are so brave just to go to school everyday. I can't imagine it. I just can't bear it if they didn't also have adults around to be safe havens for them to go to for help.

Read the book.

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