While Luna isn’t one of my favorite books ever, I think it’s an important inclusion in this database as a realistic book that deals with sexual identity. It has received many honors, including as a 2004 National Book Award Finalist in Young People’s Literature, a 2005 Stonewall Honor Book (awarded by the GLBTQ Round Table of the American Library Association) an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults 2005, and a 2005 Lambda Literary Award Finalist (Retrieved August 2nd, 2009 from http://julieannepeters.com/files/JPReviews.htm).
Author: Julie Anne Peters
ISBN-10: 0316733695 ISBN-13: 9780316733694
City and Publisher: New York: Little, Brown
Copyright Date: 2004
Author’s Website: http://julieannepeters.com/
Reader’s Annotation: Regan O’Neill really loves Luna, despite the fact that she wakes up Regan late at night to try out new makeup and outfits. Regan has to love Luna, because Luna is Regan’s bother.
Plot Summary: Regan has always been supportive of her brother Liam’s secret female identity as Luna. Regan lets Luna show off new looks when Regan should be sleeping, covers for Luna when she missteps with their macho dad, and ditches school to have heart to heart talks. But when Liam starts talking about living as Luna full time, Regan is not sure she will be able to handle letting everyone else in on the secret.
Critical Evaluation: Luna is in a lot of ways a groundbreaking book. While gay and lesbian teens are growing slowly more mainstream, transgender issues remain taboo in young adult literature. The book is written from Regan’s point of view, and her deep secretiveness about Liam’s identity illuminates one of the nastier aspects of high school, the need to hide any hint of abnormality. Both Regan and Liam suffer isolation as a result of Liam’s gender dysmorphia, and it is only as Luna begins to emerge that both teens begin to live openly and comfortably in their own skins.
While Luna’s story is heartbreaking, the book reads a little bit too much like a Lifetime True Story to be truly engrossing. Part of the fault lies in the supporting characters, which are a little cartoonish, and part of the fault lies in the lack of action throughout most of the story. Both Regan and Liam are so repressed by their situation that most of the story is occupied by exposition, flashback, and breast-beating. Readers who love a really good tearjerker will enjoy this story, readers who like a little more action will be able to take it or leave it.
Reading Level/Interest Age: 13 and up
Curriculum Ties: Luna would be an excellent introduction to any class about gender roles or diversity.
Booktalking Ideas: If the TV show America’s Next Top Model is one of the booktalker’s guilty pleasures, explain that to the teens and bring in a picture of Isis, the transgender 2008 contestant. Describe Luna as the story of a girl whose brother is transgender, and their struggles to find happiness.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Other Genres: GBLTQ Fiction, Issues Fiction, Contemporary Life
Challenge Issues: Some parents may feel that transgenderism is not an appropriate topic for teens. The ALA Bill of Rights and access to court cases (such as Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District No. 26 v. Pico) indicate the duty of library in these instances. It is the professional and legal obligations of librarians to provide materials for all patrons, regardless of age, origin, background or views. Materials may not be removed because of doctrines or views. While all books may not be suitable for all patrons, library books should present a range of views in the service of free speech.
Further References for Challenge Issues:
ALA. (2009). ALA bill of rights. Retrieved August 1st, 2009 from http://www.ala.org
DeMitchell, T., & Carney, J. (2005, October). Harry Potter and the public school library. Phi
Delta Kappan, 87(2), 159-165. Retrieved July 26, 2009, from Academic Search Premier
About the Author: Julie Anne Peters grew up in the suburbs in Colorado, and still lives there with her partner, Sherri. She came to writing after careers as a teacher and a computer programmer. She has written several young adult books, and two for children. (More details at http://julieannepeters.com/files/JPBio.htm)