Written by: Julie Anne Peters
Publication Info: 2004, Little, Brown, and Company
One Line: 16-year-old Regan has more to deal with than the average high school teen: she is the only one who knows her brother’s secret – that he is actually a woman named Luna.
Brief Plot Summary: 16-year-old Regan never sleeps well. At midnight, her sister, Luna, comes into her room, puts on makeup, dresses, wakes up Regan and talks to her, asking Regan how she looks. This happens every night, and Regan can’t really do anything to stop it, because Luna is actually her brother, Liam, and this is the only time Luna can be her true self. Liam is a transgender woman, and Regan is the only one who knows the secret. During the course of Liam’s senior year (Regan’s sophomore year), Liam tells Regan that he is going to start the transitioning process. At first, Regan doesn’t know what this means, but she soon comes to realize that Liam intends to transition to living as a female and eventually have sex reassignment surgery. Luna requires a great deal of support and time from Regan, as Luna intends to eventually
Thoughts: National Book Award Finalist Luna is a wonderful introduction to transgender issues, and what could be a difficult issue is handled with empathy and compassion. Told from the first-person point of view of Regan, the book allows readers who might be uncomfortable or confused about what it means to be transgender to see from Regan’s eyes and learn as Regan does. Structurally, using flashbacks to show Luna at a young age allows Regan and the reader to understand who Luna really is, and how living as a female is the right thing for her. While some of the characters seem stereotypical – the father, who keeps pushing sports on an obviously uninterested son – both Regan and Luna are complicated, full characters, as is Aly, Liam’s long-time friend (who is secretly in love with him) who actually begins to accept the truth rather quickly towards the end of the book. Themes include being true to yourself and being there for your loved ones while still carving out room for yourself. The metaphor of Luna as a butterfly is a strong one: she starts out undeveloped but emerges as a beautiful woman, just as a butterfly (such as a Luna moth) would. This is an important but readable book, one that even people who struggle with the idea of transgender people will find enlightening.
Author Information: From www.julieannepeters.com: “Julie Anne Peters is the critically-acclaimed, award winning author of more than a dozen books for young adults and children. Her book, Luna, was a National Book Award Finalist; Keeping You a Secret was named a Stonewall Honor Book; Between Mom and Jo won a Lambda Literary Award; and Define “Normal” was voted by young readers as their favorite book of the year in California and Maryland. Julie’s books have been published in numerous countries, including Korea, China, Croatia, Germany, France, Italy, Indonesia, Turkey, and Brazil.
She is a member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, PEN America, Colorado Authors League, and The Author's Guild.
Julie loves writing because she gets to be her own boss and doesn't have to work in an office cubicle. It's hard to think outside the box when you work in a cube. She lives in Lakewood, Colorado, with her partner, Sherri, and far too many cats. The cats are under the impression that they're creative geniuses, since they spend a majority of their day walking back and forth across her computer keyboard. They probably generate more words per day than she does, but who can read cat gibberish?”