I Feel You
Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt, 2018
Empathy has become a gaping fault line in American culture. Pioneering programs aim to infuse our legal and educational systems with more empathic thinking, even as pundits argue over whether we should bother empathizing with our political opposites at all. Meanwhile, we are inundated with buzzily termed "empathic marketing"--which may very well be a contradiction in terms. In I Feel You, Cris Beam carves through the noise with a revelatory exploration of how we perform empathy, how it is learned, what it can do--indeed, what empathy is in the first place.
To The End of June
Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt, 2013
Who are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care, looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories. The result is To The End of June, an unforgettable portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children at critical points in their search for a stable, loving family.
Author Cris Beam left her mother’s home at age 14, driven out by a suburban household of hidden chaos and mental illness. Her mother, a descendant of William Faulkner, told neighbors and family that her daughter had died. The two never saw each other again. Nearly twenty-five years later, after building her own family and happy home life, a lawyer called to say her mother was dead. In this story about the fragility of memory and the complexity of family, Beam decides to look back at her own dark history, and for the secret to her mother’s madness.
I Am J
Little, Brown, 2011
J had always felt different. He was (sometimes) sure that people would one day understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly identified as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; he 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, J decides he's done hiding: it's time to be who he really is. And this time he's determined not give up, no matter the cost. (young adult)
This book covers seven years in the lives of four transgender teenagers, as they grow from young girls to young women on the streets of Los Angeles. It’s the first book ever published to look at the burgeoning culture of transgender youth—but more than that, it provides rich narrative and insight into the way we all invent and understand ourselves simultaneously.