“My brother was a black hole in my universe. He was sucking the life right out of me. It seemed as if I was being pulled into this crater by a force I couldn’t fight. Liam was already down there. We were together at the bottom.”
I don’t often interrupt my reviews with personal stories, but this book made me need to say something to my sister: thank you. You are, and were, a gift to me. I couldn’t have done it without you.
This is a story about sisters. Well, about a younger sister, Regan, and her older sister, Luna. Only, Luna doesn’t start off being physically a sister. She says it’s a “birth anomaly”, and that she just got stuck with a boy’s body, instead of a girl’s. Luna was born Liam: he’s transgender, and the only person who knows is Regen. Ever since Liam was very young, he felt something was wrong: his outside didn’t match what he felt inside. So, for all these years, he has been hiding his true self, Luna, smothering her with boy’s clothes and trying to be “normal”. But it’s destroying him inside.
Regen and Luna’s father is strict and traditional, and their mother is so wrapped up in her wedding planning business that she doesn’t notice what is going on around her. The only time that Luna feels comfortable being herself is in the middle of the night, when she wakes up Regen, tries on her makeup, and experiments with clothes. However, during the course of the book, she decides to transition. Luna starts trying to wear her girl clothes to the mall, or on short outings. She makes plans for the future, when she can afford hormones and surgery.
It’s not always easy. There are heartbreaking moments: when Regen feels embarrassed that she can’t just have a normal brother, or when cruel comments crush Luna’s confidence. That’s what is so great about this book; it’s a realistic whirl of emotions, fears, and hope. Above all, it is honest. The raw emotions aren’t concealed, and each character develops in a realistic way. I read it right after Jumpstart the World, and I have to say that I greatly preferred this one, because it was more in touch with the feelings of transpeople and their family members. It was very well-received, and the long list of awards includes a Stonewall Honor Book nomination, as well as a Lamda Literary Award finalist designation. I think you’re going to love it!
Author’s website (she designed it herself!) http://www.julieannepeters.com
Peters, Julie Anne. Luna. New York: Little, Brown & Co, 2004. 248 pp. Grades 9-12.
If you liked this book, Julie Anne Peters has written several more, including the lesbian classic Keeping You a Secret. She’s definitely a writer you should get to know! If you are interested in reading more about transgender teens, try Parrotfish byEllen Wittlinger.