Being Jazz

28698224 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.

My thoughts:

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

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BookCon in Chicago

Hey again! This will (probably) be my last post for now about BEA/BookCon and this was my final day spent in Chicago. BookCon is kind of attached to BEA, but open to the public and run by a different company (I think). My coworkers/friends drove up Friday night after school and joined me for BookCon on Saturday. They were super excited and I was super exhausted, but happy to have friends to hang with for at least one of the days.

We had done our research about BookCon and knew we needed to get up early the next morning to get in line, but we grossly misjudged how early apparently. We got there a little over an hour before the autograph/wristband area opened, which was still 3 hours before BookCon actually started and we were overwhelmed by the massive line stretching to what seemed like an infinite point. We walked over from the hotel into the convention center, found the line, and had to follow it over a skywalk, down some escalators, and to a whole other building essentially…and there ended up being a LOT of people behind up before it was all said and done. Luckily, the wristband area was fairly well-organized and things moved quickly. We were actually able to get pretty much all of the wristbands we wanted, even though we were so far back in the line (or so it seemed). I was actually pretty impressed with the organization and manners of people, after some things I had read about past BookCons.

After getting our wristbands, we had to go wait in another line for the show floor to actually open and we had some fun there playing with Snapchat and maybe making fun of people around us (I would never!). Okay, really, I have to say it, there was just someone around us who smelled really bad and we had to laugh to make it through. Here we are in one of the lines and me with a sign at some point in the day:

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I had seen that there was going to be a Harry Potter wall in the Scholastic booth so that was one of my stops (since I couldn’t get into the Penguin breakfast, I was so close!) while they waited for the Sylvia Day signing—so not my cup of tea. The wall asked for you to tell why you loved Harry Potter or why it had impacted you. I was trying to show off my HP tattoo in the second photo, but obviously that didn’t work, so I will add a pic of it as well. Obviously, I’m a bit obsessed!

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We were walking around the floor picking up giveaways and ARCs before some of the signings and we ran into Richelle Mead. I have to admit that I was only just reading one of her books for the first time (while I was at BEA actually), but my friend Candice about lost her mind. She was like I was when I met Jennifer Niven. 🙂  Richelle was kind enough to take some pictures with us and chat a little bit. She even signed the copy of The Glittering Court that I had with me for our school library when Candice saw her again later. IMG_3019

I missed the James Dashner signing while waiting in line for the Property Brothers (I got caught up in hype and excitement!), so that was a little disappointing, but I met Drew and Jonathan! Drew is super cute by the way…okay, Jonathan is too, but I’m a Drew fan. Their line moved pretty slowly due to a holdup with the money table, so it took quite a while to make it through there, I want to say close to 2 1/2 hours in one line. But, at one point, they came out into the crowd because they knew we had been waiting so long, which I thought was super cool of them.

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My last signing of the day was Jennifer Niven (yes, again!). Is it getting creepy at this point? I just wanted to talk to her again and get a copy of All the Bright Places signed, since it is my absolute favorite. It was a pretty slow-moving line, but she was kind enough to chat with everyone, so I can’t fault her for that. I talked to her again and my friend Julie hyped me up, telling her how much I talked about her book. 🙂 Thanks, Julie! We have already put it into the hands of a student since we got back to read over the summer. I didn’t get a picture with her again, but I got a picture of her. Also, it was her birthday! I’m hoping that meeting fans and signing books is her idea of a fun birthday celebration.

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People were packing up booths and we were wandering out, when we came upon the massage both.  They were still working hard, so Julie decided to take advantage. I had never had a massage before and had a weird fear of it, but they talked me out of it and I got a back massage before we left the convention center. It was pretty nice, I’ll admit…but what I would’ve given for a foot massage (I was ready to cut them off and be done with it by that point!). They were offering one, but I was not about to subject anyone to my sweaty feet that had been in my stinky tennis shoes all day! I’m more considerate than that. 🙂

Would I do BookCon again? Probably not if I did BEA the days before, but I would if I had friends that really wanted to go again. It was fun nerding out with others who get it! I did get this awesome t-shirt out of the day:

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Here is my final stash from BEA and BookCon, stacked by month they come out—a little overwhelming and awesome!

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Check out the rest of my blog to read about my days at BEA.