Julie Anne Peters
Regan's brother Liam can't stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister's clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change-Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam's family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives? Compelling and provocative, this is an unforgettable novel about a transgender teen's struggle for self-identity and acceptance.


Reviewed: 2016-11-22

The moon, because its mysterious glow and mood-shifting potential properties, has captivated its earth-bound observers for millennia.  Similarly, in 2004 Julie Peters author of Luna (moon in Latin and Español) captivates and immerses her audience by writing into uncharted waters perhaps the creation of Young Adult fiction’s first transgendered protagonista.  Narrated by Regan, Luna’s (female pseudonym for Liam) younger sibling, offers a tale about her brother turn sister’s process of self-acceptance, all the while sharing her challenges of eventually accepting the new and truthful identity of her older sister. Unlike the sun, during the day Liam is under-the-radar, and occupies his day with school, and computer programming with like-minded Aly, his best friend, who happens to have a secret crush on him. However, like the moon, Liam turned Luna comes out only at night.  Aware of the criticism that Liam would receive, he transforms into Luna in the privacy of her basement bedroom. This becomes a temporary safe haven. Eventually the space becomes mentally claustrophobic for Luna and wants to be herself beyond the perimeter of the bedroom basement.   Although suspecting that her sibling was more of a sister than brother, Regan was mostly congenial and supportive, yet at school she keeps other students at bay as to avoid creating intimate friendships that may prompt her to confess Liam’s secret identity.  This avoidance is challenged with the introduction of Chris, a school mate who likes her, and she like him.  To complicate matters for our narrator, her absentee-I-rather-be-busy-with-work mom and traditional masculine dad are unable to provide the increasingly frustrated narrator with solace. Caught in this emotional riptide, Regan attempts to keep it together.  However, Luna insistence of being more Luna unintentionally places more of a strain on her younger sister.  The strain exponentially increases when Regan’s dad secretly enquires about Liam’s sexuality, but as a steadfast sibling she sides on loyalty than betrayal. Yet, this is an extremely difficult choice to make as Regan has her own doubts/concerns/issues about Luna’s transition. Further, as Chris becomes more than a friend, Luna becomes bolder about revealing her identity even at the cost of receiving insults and jeers. Luna’s identity comes to a climactic moment in the novel when Liam turn Luna approaches both Regan and Chris.  Despite the negativity, back lash and lack of empathy from family and friends, Regan is empowered by Luna’s strength by allowing her sibling moonlight to enlighten her own identity.


Even though there is more acceptance of transitioning or transitioned individuals in society, it is still a far cry from mainstream acceptance.  Luna is a novel that must be included in secondary school instruction as there are more Lunas appearing in our classroom. If the ultimate aim of education is to motivate students to develop and accept themselves as they are, then stakeholders need to provide examples for our students who are internally suffering because they do not know how to close the chasm between their body and psyche.  Therefore, by offering all students, but transitioning and transitioned students a novel like Luna, educators are providing everyone the encouragement to walk confidently and securely in the sunlight and the moonlight.  

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