In Luna, Reagan, a teen girl who has to keep up with school, meets a boy she likes and that might like her back, deals with parents that have grown apart, hides a secret on top of the average secrets a teenager carries: her brother, Liam, is transgender. He is born a boy, but feels like a girl inside and calls herself Luna.
In some ways, this is your average YA book. There is a lot of teen angst. Reagan has a hard time expressing herself and keeping up with everything that is important to her: school, family, job, possible boyfriend. I did notice how she seems to have next to no friends, outside of Liam/Luna. But maybe that is to explicitly address how Reagan and Luna both were affected by the prejudices surrounding transgender. How Reagan struggles to keep a balance between her love for her brother/sister and her fear of being rejected when someone finds out about their secret. In some ways, Reagan seems very self-centred, but then again, that is how most teens are described in YA. And then, I cannot really blame Reagan. Being the only confidante of her brother, is a heavy weight to carry.
There were some things that were very different. For one, Peters feels the need to explain a lot. Which makes sense. Transgender is a very confusing thing for many, which might explain the need to underline how being transgender is not the same as being gay and the constant referral to gender expectations. But in a way, I liked that Julie Anne Peters did. Because it not only addresses issues surrounding transgender, but it also addresses gender expectations in general. Something I would like teens to think more about.
Pretty. A word for girls. The way handsome described boys. Liam was right; people did use boy and girl language. They expected different behaviors. When kid acted “out of role,” as Liam put it, they were labeled tomboys or sissies.
There were lines you didn’t cross, in clothing, behavior, attitude. Like, if I wore lipstick and lace to school, nobody would even notice. Well, they might, since I’ve never worn either. I wasn’t that girly-girly. People could accept if you moved along your own gender scale – be a princess one day and a slob the next. Same with boys.
To a point.
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 am sorry for the long quote, but I felt it was needed to explain why Peters’ explanations were kind of perfect.
One other thing that is different from other YA I have read? This was far more negative. As in, there was so much prejudice towards gay and transgender people that Liam/Luna and Reagan had to deal with, that at times I found myself wondering if it wasn’t a bit over the top. Sadly, I think it might not be. I guess parents often find it hard to deal with something like this, and teens? we all know they can be harsh and rejecting. But in a way, I kept hoping for a happier ending. I think I agree with Amy’s review when it comes to this negativity.
As my first GLBT book, Luna was a great success. I also loved how it fitted in perfectly with the reading for the Feminist Classics project, with the focus on gender expectations.
Thanks to Amy for sending me this book.