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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Frank explanation of what it means to be transgender and what that experience can be like for a growing child, from toddlerhood through puberty. Depicts both discriminatory treatment transgender people may face and how support systems and upstanders can help. Inside look at ways reality TV isn't always realistic. Extensive resource section at the end of the book recommends supportive organizations, services, books for kids and parents, films, and TV shows. Some of the media recommendations are more appropriate for older teens.
Don't judge people by their appearance. Drawing public attention to unfairness can lead to positive change. Little fights for justice can be just as significant as large ones. It's important to stand up for yourself, but stay safe. Finding a supportive community make hardships easier to bear.
Positive Role Models
Jazz is confident, asserting her right to be treated like any other girl. She's also optimistic, looking for brighter days ahead when she's feeling low. Her family is very loving and deeply committed to supporting her, and Jazz's words along with interviews in the back of the book portray how their views have been shaped by knowing Jazz.
Violence & Scariness
Family worries for Jazz's safety. There are anecdotes about suicide and bullying.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Jazz is eager for her first kiss and romantic relationship and vividly describes first French kiss. Discussion of puberty and sexual development, genitalia, and sexual desires. Author relates getting in trouble for drawing nude figures in early elementary school. In a Q&A at the back of the book, a teen boy warns that "boys want one thing" and teases his brother as a "loser" for not dating.
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Crass references to anatomy ("boobs," "butt," "balls") plus proper terminology for male and female anatomical parts, plus other coarse language including "screw it," "crap," and "BS," and author sometimes refers to her male genitalia as a "D." Slurs including "chick with a dick" and "tranny."
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Products & Purchases
References to Jazz's reality series, YouTube channel, and picture book, famous people she's met, and her sales of homemade mermaid tales to support her charitable organization.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 15-year-old transgender activist, YouTube star, and TV personality Jazz Jennings talks frankly about sexual development and romantic drama -- including first kisses and awkward dates -- in her memoir Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen. Jazz is forthright about her difficulties dating and finding good friends and about dealing with depression. She discusses the bullying and emotional anguish many trans people suffer and their heightened risk for suicide, and she acknowledges her relatively privileged experience as a trans teen with a loving family, material comfort, and broad support. Jazz, who previously co-wrote a picture book for younger children, is very open in discussing her gender identity and puberty: She refers to male and female genitalia with both proper terminology and slang and discusses slurs referencing her genitalia. She incorporates plentiful references to celebrities, her reality TV series, and her public acclaim and recognition as a trans teen activist.
Is It Any Good?
Transgender activist Jazz Jennings holds little back in her frank, funny memoir -- she shares soaring highs and humiliating lows, her ambition and depression, and her unique experience with puberty. In Being Jazz, she writes with the bubbly voice and confident intimacy familiar to her fans from YouTube and TV. Sometimes she's a funny best friend, confiding how she farted through a date or finagled her first French kiss. But she's also an ambassador and advocate, detailing the challenges she's endured as a trans girl: regularly peeing herself in school because she couldn't use the girls' bathroom, being sidelined because she couldn't play on a girls' soccer team, being ostracized by peers because she's transgender.
The narrative can be jumpy, and the name-dropping while she assures readers she's just an ordinary girl is grating. But her no-holds-barred style makes this a vitally important book for trans kids, their friends and family, and anyone who seeks to understand them.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.