Peters, Julie Anne (2005). New York: Little, Brown and Co. ISBN-10: 0316733695/ ISBN-13: 978-0316733694
Regan O’ Neill has a brilliant computer whiz brother who dresses conservatively and excels in school. She also has an insecure fashion victim sister, Luna. Her life is complicated by the fact that these siblings are the same person. Regan meets a guy she likes; she’s trying to figure out who she wants to be and what she’s good at, and at the same time, she has to deal with Luna’s nightly emergences from her chrysalis, with increasingly risky outings to the mall with a Luna in girly attire, and with Liam’s old friend Aly, who wants to be Liam’s girlfriend. The O’ Neill parents are oblivious, as the dad tries to push Liam into high school sports, or preoccupied, as the mother spends her life on her cell phone working on her part--planning business. Things come to a head when Regan, tempted by a date with Chris, leaves Liam to cover her babysitting job and the parents return to find him wearing the mother’s clothes.
16 year old Regan doesn’t get enough sleep, because at night her brother Liam transforms into his true self—a girl named Luna. Regan’s involvement with her needy brother as he grows toward his permanent transformation makes her own teen growth a challenge.
Again, a YA book which so clearly has purpose beyond the literary that it seems mean-spirited to critique it aesthetically. The device of using the sister to tell the story is an excellent choice—we see Luna from the first through loving eyes, but at the same time receive a clear-eyed teen view of an extremely needy and difficult sibling. Regan’s ambivalence about her brother’s final metamorphosis was much appreciated as it is probably shared by many readers—on the one hand excited to see Liam realize his true self-image, but on another level finding the actual process of intense medication and major surgeries deeply disturbing. Peter’s use of metaphor, especially in her settings: the basement, the costume room, the Chem lab, enriched the story for the adult reader, but her characters, especially the cartoonish parents, are not all as well-realized as is Regan.
About the author
Peters was born in 1952,making her the first YA author I have read who was older than I am. She was briefly a teacher, a computer expert for many years, and lives with her partner Sherri Leggett in Colorado.
Could be very good for a Family Life/Living Skills type class.
Predict for Regan and Chris?
What happens to transgender kids who aren’t earning big money like Liam is?
Imagine hiding your most basic self (?!)
Reading Level/Interest Age
Accepting depiction of transgender teen
Share many awards listed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna_(novel)
And SLS, Booklist reviews at http://www.amazon.com/Luna-Julie-Anne-Peters/dp/0316733695