June 2004

A teen’s painful search for identity

By Julie Anne Peters
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Julie Anne Peters' newest novel, Luna, is a wonderfully crafted story about a young girl named Regan and her brother, Liam. Liam is unhappy in his boy's body, and has, ever since he can remember, wanted to be a girl. And so, at night, under the gentle light of the moon, he becomes one a carefree girl named Luna.

Regan is supportive of her brother, and patiently allows him to wake her up each night as he slips into her room and tries on girlhood, with the assistance of her clothing and makeup. She joins him in keeping his secret from their parents and their peers, and empathizes with the pain he feels at not revealing his true self.

A breaking point is approaching, however: The teenaged Liam decides he is no longer willing to hide his true identity, and Regan is afraid of what will happen if he shares his secret with their family, friends and schoolmates. Will they be understanding and kind, or will they ostracize him? Will Liam always need her to be constantly by his side always ready to listen, to praise his girlhood, to be nearly consumed by him just as she is beginning to learn more about her own place in the world?

Peters has written several acclaimed novels for teens and middle-grade readers, including Define "Normal" and Keeping You a Secret. In Luna, her skill shines through in her honest and sensitive exploration of what can happen when a relationship shifts, when people need to stretch and grow as individuals and risk possible damage to their strong connection. Her portraits of the children's parents, and her depictions of Luna's tentative forays into public places, are powerful and memorable. So, too, is Luna as a whole: It's an important story told in a way that will surely educate and inspire its readers, be they transgender teens who have heretofore felt alone and misunderstood, or the people who love them.

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By Julie Anne Peters
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316733694

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