Author: Julie Anne Peters
Release Date: May 26, 2004
Publisher: Little, Brown
Cover Designer: Alyssa Morris
Age Audience: YA
Summary: From as early as she can remember, Regan O’Neill has known that her brother Liam was different. That he was, in fact, a girl. Transgender. Having a transgender brother has never been a problem for Regan—until now.
Liam (or Luna, as she prefers to be called by her chosen name) is about to transition. What does it mean, transitioning? Dressing like a girl? In public? Does Liam expect Regan to embrace this decision, to welcome his sex change?
She’s always kept her brother’s secret, always been his confidante, but now Regan’s acceptance and love will be put to the test.
Luna is Julie Anne Peter’s most well-known book, and I’ve read so many glowing reviews. Because of that, I think I was expecting a groundbreaking novel of YA LGBT. But, that was not the case.
Even though it’s not told from her point of view, this book is the story of Luna, a girl who was born into the body of a boy named Liam. Liam has always known that he was really a girl, but he has to hide his true identity from everyone except Reagan, his sister. One day, Liam tells Reagan that Luna cannot be hidden anymore, and he starts what he refers to as his "transition".
Before I start criticizing, I want to say that this was a very, very good transgender awareness book. It’s so sad that what I’m about to say is true, but people are even more prejudiced and hateful toward transgenders than they are to homosexuals or bisexuals. You should absolutely read this book if you don’t know or understand much about transgender people.
There was the same simple, cherished writing in Luna as there was in Keeping You a Secret and Between Mom and Jo, so what really didn’t work for me was the characters. I could not connect or identify with Reagan at all. I also thought that Liam was very selfish! I know that he didn’t have an easy life, but he should have been more considerate of Reagan’s feelings. For example, in one part of the book Reagan promised to babysit for the neighbor’s, but also promised to go to a party with her new friend. So she asks Liam to babysit in her place. But when she returns from the party, Reagan finds that Liam had gone through the neighbor’s clothes and got caught! She looses her job because Liam “had no control” over Luna! In the beginning of the book I wished that it was told from Luna’s POV so that we could get inside the mind of a transgender teenager, but later on I was glad it wasn’t, because otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to fully see how Liam’s self-centered actions affected Reagan.
Another qualm I have is with one flashback scene that involves Liam as a toddler, playing in a kiddie pool on a summer afternoon. I suppose it was a necessary part of the book because it showed that Liam knew from a young age that he was really a girl. But in that scene, Peters crossed the fine, fine line between honest and vulgar.
While I was a little disappointed with Luna, overall it was an excellent awareness book, and just because of that I feel that it deserves to be a National Book Award Finalist.