04 July 2010

I am J; Cris Beam

I Am J I Am J by Cris Beam
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am J falls into that "difficult to read" category that Freaks and Revelations falls into, particularly if you've never had those questions about your identity before. J identifies as male, and has since he was young. Problem is, he's genetically female - naturally, this causes problems. He's not gay, or bi, just trans. Setting this in NYC means that J can experience the problems of being part of a Puerto Rican/Jewish household and attend a "normal" school where people like him are not welcome and find a kind of sanctuary in the school set up for students like him.

His "passing" becomes better and better, and by the end of the book you sense that he's at peace with himself; his friends and family take longer to get there. My guess is that in another setting this might not have been the case. It was also a little too convenient that his BFF, Melissa, was/is a cutter (her recovery seems a little too quick, although it's not really explored in depth; she also seems to have some eating disorders, again not explored).

One quibble about the ending: would any college really refer to their program as "prestigious"?

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