Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
**This review is based on an ARC received at BEA/BookCon 2016, release date 6/7/16.
Summary from Goodreads:
Teen activist and trailblazer Jazz Jennings named one of The 25 Most Influential Teens of the year by “Time” shares her very public transgender journey, as she inspires people to accept the differences in others while they embrace their own truths.
Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series “I Am Jazz” making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults.
In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen. Through it all, her family has been beside her on this journey, standing together against those who don’t understand the true meaning of tolerance and unconditional love. Now Jazz must learn to navigate the physical, social, and emotional upheavals of adolescence particularly high school complicated by the unique challenges of being a transgender teen. Making the journey from girl to woman is never easy especially when you began your life in a boy s body.
I didn’t meet Jazz at BookCon, but I was glad to pick this ARC up because I am always looking for good memoirs/biographies to add to my high school’s library collection. Our curriculum requires students to read a memoir for English class and some other teachers require a nonfiction title for a book report during the year as well. I love finding titles with familiar faces and topics that are interesting to my students. I am not a nonfiction reader myself in most cases, but I do enjoy a lot of memoirs, so I happily read this one. I was able to read it all in almost one sitting and found the writing to be wonderful and very readable for teens. I could easily recommend this to any of my students, even those with a lower reading level.
A lot of teens already know who Jazz is from social media and/or TV, so this is a chance to learn more about her. However, I think that even those who don’t know her would still gladly pick this one up and read about an interesting topic. I thought it was great learning about what Jazz felt like growing up and how others treated her. She has overcome so many challenges and loves who she is as a person, which is a great message to send to teens no matter what! I also like that this book has great interactive qualities…I found myself going to watch YouTube videos of the interviews she had done and more while reading and after I was done. There are also great resources for those wanting to learn more included. Jazz’s story flowed well and moved quickly, it did not feel like “factual” reading at all.
Overall, this book sends a great message about loving yourself and knowing who you are, and I will be ordering multiple copies for my library, as well as sharing this ARC with others!
My rating: 5/5