Sunday, January 24, 2010

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

My first experience with Julie Anne Peters was during the last read-a-thon. I read Between Mom and Jo, a book that dealt with the subject of same sex parents and their son. I knew after I read that book that I wanted to read everything that she had written. She handled lesbian issues perfectly in that book, never denying how they can affect others...never denying the hurt and the pain that comes with the acceptance of who one is and living the life that's true to one's self. She does the same with this amazing book,Luna, which turns the focus onto transgendered issues, specifically in teens. The story here is told from the point of view of Regan, a young teenage girl who shares the basement of her suburban home with her brother Liam. Only her brother is not actually a boy. Physically, Liam is a boy, but Luna is a girl. Liam is transgendered. A person who was born into a males body, but identifies herself as a female and has taken up the name Luna. But Luna has had to share this secret with only her sister throughout her life, hiding herself even from her parents and her best friend. She takes safety in her sister's room dressing as a girl and putting on makeup and it's only then that she truly feels safe. At school, Liam catches the eye of many girls, girls he has no interest in. His father pressures him to try out for the baseball team and rebuild cars, constantly denying the fact that his son is not a son. His best friend since childhood and his neighbor, Aly is in love with him. And his mother has avoided the world with a pill addiction. In the middle of all of this, Luna is a point where she is ready to start transitioning into her true self, a self that is not accepted by the world. Far from excepted by the world. Being Luna's only confidant puts a lot of weight on Regan's shoulders. Regan has her own issues at hand. She feels like she's always lived in the shadow of her older brother/sister and wants so much to always be there for her. But she wants a life of her own too. She's met a boy named Chris that she's fallen hard for, but she's a continuous mess in front of him (which I must say provides some truly laugh out loud moments). But while she's falling for him, Luna is always in the back of her mind. Every time she finds something for herself, Luna seems to take it away by demanding her support. My experience with reading this book was like a rollercoaster. I was up and down as I turned the pages. I went from laughing at times to feeling like my heart was being ripped out for Liam/Luna, for Regan. For the situations that Luna had to deal with. For Luna when she decides to go out in public as herself for the first time. For the first time she's rejected as herself. For the judgements that people put on her. But my heart smiled for her when she had her moments of happiness. When Regan had her moments of happiness. At the clumsiness that Regan shared with Chris, her first love. So much emotion packed into this book...fear, love, confusion,'s all there. Have I confused you with Luna/Liam's gender yet? With the pronouns I've used in this review? Fear not. Peters handles all this perfectly and I was never once confused. But think of this for one moment. This is why this book is so important. If you were confused even for a moment...And thought that this book might confuse you...think how confusing it must be to be transgendered. To be nine years old and to be so different than the world says you should be....that you don't fit in anywhere, no matter where you are. You play with boys and they make fun of you and then you play with girls and they make fun of you too. You're not gay because you don't identify yourself as a male. You're not's not that you like girls, you just want to be one. Or vice versa. I'm just using the character in this book as an example. My point is, I commend Julie Anne Peters for writing this book. I commend her for continuing to write books that tackle LGBT issues and writing them for teens. Though I think they need to be read by everyone, not just teens. But the younger, the better. This knowledge needs to be known as young as possible, I think. I certainly learned a LOT about transgendered people from this book and I think I'm a better person for it. We can all afford to learn more about LGBT issues...we can all afford to learn more about each other. We can all afford to learn more about what makes us all individuals....and respect that.
"When people look at me, the don't see the real me. They can't because I look like this." He swept a hand down his chest. What was I supposed to say? How many times had I heard this? "I like that shirt," I settle on, trying to lighten the mood. "Is it new?" He cast me a withering glance. "Sorry" "No one will ever know the person I am inside. The true me. The girl, the woman. All they see is this...this nothing." "You're not nothing." I snapped. "You're a person. You're Liam" "Liam." He let out a short laugh. "Who's that? A caricature I've created. A puppet, a mime, a cartoon character. I'm this male macho version of a son that Dad has in his head."


The gender scales didn't extend equidistant in both directions. For example, if you were a girl you could be off-the-scale feminine and that'd be fine, but if you acted or felt just a little too masculine, you were a dyke. Same for guys. Mucho macho, fine. Soft and gentle, fag. What if you happened to be born off both scales, between scales like Liam? Then you were just a freak. I know that's how Liam felt. He told me once there was no place for him in the world, that he didn't fit anywhere. He really was off the scale. Boy by day, girl by night. Except, he was a girl all the time, inside. It was hardwired into his brain, he said, the way intelligence or memory is. His body didn't reflect his inner image. His body betrayed him. The way people viewed Liam, as a boy, meant he had to play to their expectations. Dress the part. Act the role. And Liam was good at it, expert. He'd had all thoe years of practice. It had to be horrible, though, day after day after day, seeing all around him what he wanted so desperately to be and never could.

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