Author: Cris Beam
Published: 2011 by Little Brown Books
Length: 352 pages
Warnings: cutting, transphobia
Summary : 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 by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding - it's time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.
Review: J has always known he was a boy. But since puberty hit, he started hiding his biologically female body, and getting shut up from the world. He is then shunned by his best friend after a failed romanctic advance, and this is the push to him deciding he’ll get hold of testosterone, more, better friends, and to be who he really is.
Even within the selection of LGBT fiction, there doesn’t seem to be that much of the T. It’s good to see a book featuring a transgender main character. It also deals with a lot of issues some people may go through, regardless of gender-family, love, acceptance.
J has a lot going on-as well as his gender and steps to transition, there’s a lot of friction in his family. I Am J is told in close third person, so you get a lot of his emotions coming through. As well as through the writing, you get a lot of him through his photography, a unique way of passing on feelings. He isn’t totally defined by his gender and transitioning, he’s determined in everything he does.
I dind’t like Melissa. She was a bit..off in certain things. Chanelle was my favourite character-she’s really supportive for J and is a more positive than the majority of the cast.
There’s a lot of learning and development for J and the people around him. J’s family’s attitudes change as he educates them and J learns about honesty from his relationship with Blue.
Cris tells the tale honestly and sensitively. I imagine the research and personal connections with the trans community helped her write this, and it shows with the depth of the story developed.
Overall: Strength 4 tea to a deep novel addressing identity, relationships, and being true to yourself.