Wendy Darling's Reviews > Luna

Luna by Julie Anne Peters
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's review
Oct 10, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: young-adult, lgbtqi, realistic-fiction, read-2011
Recommended to Wendy Darling by: Leanne
Read in October, 2011

Clearly, it's important that books like this are written, not only so that teens who are transgender have a voice in young adult literature, but also so that our society as a whole has a chance to better understand gender identity and gender expression.

Regan's older brother Liam has always felt as if he was different. Through the years, he's been closer to her female friends than any guy his own age, and he's always been interested in typically "feminine" toys and clothes. Eventually, Liam begins to transform his outward appearance for certain outings and lives a secret life as Luna, who is a reflection of his true female identity. Regan helps Luna hide this secret from their parents and everyone around them, but as social and family pressures start to build, Regan starts to resent how Liam/Luna's choices are affecting her own.

I'd read many glowing reviews of this book, and it was nominated for a number of awards when it came out in 2004. For me, however, this novel wasn't quite the reading experience I was hoping for. Firstly, Luna's story is so interesting that I really wish that the book had been told from her point of view--or even in third person omniscient. Luna's story is the reason I picked up the book, and it became a little frustrating to read everything filtered through her sister Regan's thoughts and emotions. Regan also behaves pretty selfishly and stupidly a number of times throughout the story, and while some of it might be understandable, I really didn't feel deep enough love and support from her for Liam/Luna to make up for it, other than some kneejerk defensive reactions.

I might have felt a little more lenient if this had been a middle grade book, as the level of complexity isn't very deep. The story line is so straightforward that I could probably have guessed its outline ahead of time (I could almost picture the checklist of acceptable terminology that had to be covered) and most of the characters do no more or less than what you really expect them to do. I don't feel as if I'm that well-versed in transgenderism, but none of the revelations or behaviors really surprised me all that much (from Luna or from her friends and family), and most of Luna's personality seems to be pretty stereotypical--she seemed so much more of a symbol to me than a real living, breathing, thinking, emotional human being. The way the story is told is also a little jumbled, and the flashbacks are rather awkwardly inserted into the story in no particular order.

It's nice to see that this is not one of those melodramatic stories that ends on a tragic note, however. I'm glad that teens can find not only struggles to identify with in books like this and Suicide Notes, but that there are also feelings of resolve and hope. Still, I wish that these characters had more emotional depth and that they interacted on a deeper, more meaningful level, rather than just mingling in surface activities (dates, trips to the mall, playing video games) or conversations that center around this topic alone. It would have made for a much richer and much more rewarding reading experience...not to mention a much more realistic one.

I've seen many positive reactions to this story, and if other readers find it more insightful than I did or are moved by it more than I am, then I'm happy that that's the case. This book certainly offers the opportunity to open up a dialogue about some important topics, and there's plenty of value in that.
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Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm interested to know your opinions on this one, Wendy. Did you enjoy it?

Wendy Darling I did, yes! It didn't surprise me all that much in terms of the story, but it kept my interest and it's obviously a topic that deserves attention. I have to write my review soon, I've really been slacking off.

message 3: by Shirley (new) - added it

Shirley Marr A very thoughtful review Wendy. I'm disappointed that it didn't quite hit the mark... cos the sound of the story along with the prettiness of a) cover b) book title and c) shiny silver award sticker all scream yes yes yes for me

message 4: by Wendy Darling (last edited Oct 27, 2011 03:38AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Wendy Darling I'm not sorry I read it, but certainly I found it disappointing, Shirley. Not only did I not really feel anything (other than occasional irritation with Regan), I didn't really learn anything, either.

As for the pretty cover...would it make a difference if I pointed out that that is not, in fact, a luna moth?! I'd be curious to see what you ended up thinking of this one...

message 5: by Shirley (new) - added it

Shirley Marr I have been duped! Yes, that is indeed a butterfly and not a moth of any description! But... pretty cover, you are still pretty to me...

Will def be looking for this one Wendy, thanks for the show & tell:)

Wendy Darling Have you read Suicide Notes yet, Miss M? That is a truly excellent coming of age book, and also addresses some identity issues. It's also very funny.

message 7: by Donna (new)

Donna I recently had an author do a guest post where she spoke about the importance of POV. Its fascinating how the choice of narrator can determine how I feel about a book. I've read a few books that I felt would have been better with a different POV. I'm sorry you didn't like Luna as much as you expected. It is a lovely cover though :-)

message 8: by Shirley (new) - added it

Shirley Marr Suicide Notes also looks like totally my thing! I like the weirdo books that stare at me with all their edgy good looks from across the room. Thanks Miss D :-)

Wendy Darling POV really can make or break a book, Donna. In a way I understand why some people have liked the sister's perspective, but in the end I just wasn't a fan of how it was executed.

I think you'd like Suicide Notes, Shirley. Jeff is super smart and snarky, but he'll also break your heart a little bit.

And thank you, Skyla! I'm glad I wasn't the only one who felt this way.

Wendy Darling Here is a really great article about a pair of 14-year-old twin boys, one of whom had gender reassignment surgery.

message 11: by Shirley (new) - added it

Shirley Marr I read that article this morning Wendy, isn't it amazing?

Wendy Darling Yes, the article, the kids, the parents, and the program are all amazing. Maybe there's hope for us after all. :)

Arlene I read this book quite a while ago but I still remember being moved by the content and characters. However, I agree with your point on there being an opportunity for more emotional depth. Great point and awesome review Wendy.

Wendy Darling Thanks Arlene, it's a book with a lot of a value for sure, even if it's not one that I responded to on an emotional level.

Checking out your review now, Skyla!

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