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A groundbreaking novel about a transgender teen, selected as a National Book Award Finalist!

Regan's brother Liam can't stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female name, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister's clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change: Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam's family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives?

Compelling and provocative, this is an unforgettable novel about a transgender teen's struggle for self-identity and acceptance.

248 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2004

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About the author

Julie Anne Peters

27 books1,661 followers
Julie Anne Peters was born in Jamestown, New York. When she was five, her family moved to the Denver suburbs in Colorado. Her parents divorced when she was in high school. She has three siblings: a brother, John, and two younger sisters, Jeanne and Susan.

Her books for young adults include Define "Normal" (2000), Keeping You a Secret (2003), Luna (2004), Far from Xanadu (2005), Between Mom and Jo (2006), grl2grl (2007), Rage: A Love Story (2009), By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead (2010), She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not... (2011), It's Our Prom (So Deal with It) (2012), and Lies My Girlfriend Told Me (2014). Her young adult fiction often feature lesbian characters and address LGBT issues. She has announced that she has retired from writing, and Lies My Girlfriend Told Me will be her last novel. She now works full-time for the Colorado Reading Corps.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,547 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,538 reviews33.9k followers
April 11, 2016
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.
Profile Image for saadia k.
37 reviews9 followers
June 22, 2012
This book got under my skin in a big way.

For starters, all characters in this novel felt flat to me -- all stereotype and caricature; no real depth. In short, they were unlikable because there was nothing earnestly human about them -- their imperfections were forced rather than fluid (Regan's self-deprication, for example) and their conflicts were heavy-handed.

Liam/Luna is portrayed as an object in this novel, nothing more, and is extreeeeemely underdeveloped. Regan is supposed to be Luna's closest confidante and deeply connected to her in all ways -- and yet her narrative allows us little to no insight into Luna's traumas, therefore rendering said traumas to feel completely shallow and insincere. It really frustrated me to read yet another text about gender and sex (see: "What Happened to Lani Garver") that creates an inside/outside dichotomy, always placing the LGBTQ character on the outside, alienated from the narrator and therefore the reader. The reader is placed in the position of observer, totally removed from the experience of the character who is at the center of the plot, positioned in the head of the narrator who is watching as though on the other side of a glass wall. I get it, narrator -- having a transgender brother/sister/friend is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO hard for you and let's just all wade through how hard it is for you and why can't your brother/sister/friend just be normal and who is s/he anyways and oh my gosh why does she have to get bullied and take over my life and blah blah blah. How about a text that renders the transgender character as more than just a plot point for the crappy development of an obnoxious "oh my gosh I'm so ugly and stupid but oh wow this gorgeous boy is talking to me which means I must actually be beautiful and awesome and oh wow this sexist teacher thinks I have potential so I'm secretly really awesome at school and oh by the way my brother/sister/friend is just making all of that soooooo much more complicated!" protagonist. Gag.

And yes, I get it, Peters wanted to explore the difficulties of loving someone whose identity is not easy -- the tension between being for yourself and being for someone else -- the burden of carrying your own trauma as well as the traumas of someone you love -- and those intentions are great and honorable and all that. The problem is just that this book lacked all nuance and subtlety and just read like trashy, predictable teen lit.

I was left feeling as though this book posed itself as an insightful text into a sister -- and by extension, a family -- grappling with her brother's grappling with his sex, but the way Peters developed her characters only alienated me from their experiences. Plus, I thought the narration was overwrought and convenient, as was the resolution. Sigh. Maybe my expectations were too high, but this read like a book for people who don't really want to know what it's like to be trans, but to know what it's like to know someone who is. People who want to get close -- but not too close -- to understanding.

I don't want to think about why/how this became a finalist for a national book award.
Profile Image for Brooke.
413 reviews4 followers
February 3, 2014
Hmm. Well, I'm glad this book was written because there certainly could be more books for and about the trans community. I did have some issues with this book, however. Some thoughts and some questions.

It was interesting how the mother and father had non-traditional roles (him not working,her working). Im not sure if this was necessary though or really served the plot in any way.

There is this theme or at least a few scenes in which Liam is painted as someone who "can't help himself" from cross dressing, among other things, like at the neighbor's/babysitter's house and goes through their stuff. I think this is an unfortunate stereotype. Yes, Liam can't help that he is trans, but his character is painted as someone who in general doesn't have control impluse, which I found annoying and naive.

Also, just because Liam is trans and is really a girl, doesn't mean he has to be sooooooo girly. Another false stereotype. There are plenty of transwoman who aren't super femme. Liam's character and obession with shopping seems unrealistic and is just perpetuating a stereotype.

The writing was not so hot. The back and forth between the use of "he" and "she" was interesting, but also seemed kind of random. I'm not sure how I feel about it.
February 14, 2014
Although Luna is a well-written book on a topic that demands more wide-spread exploration, its narrative ultimately promotes the "wrongness" and/or "otherness" of trans characters by focusing on a cis hetero (and ultimately much less interesting) main character.

Luna is one of those books I read a long time ago -- long enough that I can't, in good conscience, review the prose, because I don't remember it... though, perhaps that is telling in and of itself. I read Luna while I was in high school and coming to terms with being queer, myself, mostly because when you're queer and looking for representation, you generally have to settle for whatever you can get your hands on. This was before the Tumblr age, when LGBT sections in libraries were virtually nonexistent and this sort of book was viewed as being sort of taboo (though I suppose it still is), and I remember the subject matter in this book being treated in the exact same way: this is a "freaky and taboo" situation where a narrator's sibling doesn't happen to be cis. Crazy stuff, kids.

Maybe it's obvious from the way I wrote that, but I'm not particularly happy with the way trans issues are dealt with in this book, if only because the one thing that stuck with me from this book was the overall tone of it all. There were things in this book that I carried around with me for years, until I finally became more involved with real trans issues and finally shelved them.

The fact that the narrator of this book is a cis hetero one who refuses to use her sibling's preferred pronouns throughout most of the narrative and views her sibling's trans-ness as alien and unrelateable is something that stuck with me long after I put the book down. Luna is by far the more interesting character, and her struggles as she comes to term with her gender identity are very relatable and engaging. The fact that you, as a reader, are forced to hang out with Regan instead is almost as insulting as it is disappointing -- it means that you're by default forced into this unsavory position of siding with her as she misgenders Luna and feels ashamed of her.

What all of this really points to is a cis hetero author who thinks of Regan as automatically being more relatable than Luna; someone for whom trans issues can only be viewed through the lens of otherness, as something that occurs outside of them. And that's why I don't really think of this as an LGBT book -- I think of it as a bare bones pamphlet for cis hetero folks, queer literature that isn't written for a queer audience. I don't think I would read this book again, because I remember being mildly offended by it when I didn't know shit about trans issues, and didn't have a personal stake in trans representation in media. Now that I do, I worry that it would be bad enough to make me legitimately angry.
April 28, 2021

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I was reading some reviews for other YA LGBT+ books I wanted to try and one of them, also involving a teenage trans-woman, had a review that said something like, "This is a book about transgender people written for cis people." And I thought about that a lot while reading LUNA because I kind of feel like this book is, too. Luna, the eponymous young trans-woman character, isn't the heroine of her own story. That privilege goes to her sister, Regan, who consistently misgenders her and refers to her deadname. Granted, this was written in the early 2000s when people were much more misinformed about trans issues and there was much less protective infrastructure in place to ensure that protected classes are just that: protected. Speaking as someone who went to high school in the 2000s, people were jerks. And they got away with it, because that's how it was back then. People were so much more intolerant and awful than they are now.

The only book about trans people I remember reading during this time period was WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER, which actually shares many of the same issues as LUNA. It isn't really centered on the group of people it's about; like LUNA, the heroine in WHTLG is an ignorant bigot whose world view is reshaped by the trans person who enters her life and teaches her to, you know, not be such a jerk. WHTLG's protagonist is actually probably non-binary, but the heroine assigns Lani male pronouns, and it is the heroine's pronouns, and not Lani's, that stay consistent over the story. Likewise, Regan talks about Luna in the terms that she, Regan, feels comfortable with, switching back and forth between masculine and feminine whenever it suits her comfort or world-view. But that should never be the case. If someone is non-binary and tells you it's okay to swap or tells you when to swap, that's their business, but you should 100% not do that for them and especially not when it's contrary to what they want-- which is the case in Luna because Luna, as I said before, is a trans-woman. Period.

The writing is actually quite good and the author REALLY captures the time period so well. The sexist teachers? The casual homophobia? The bullying? Yeah, my schools definitely had some of that. Regan is even a believable heroine in her reactions-- which is maybe what makes this book so unpleasant to read. Especially since Luna is so obviously suffering (major trigger warnings for body dysmorphia, attempted suicide, bullying, misgendering and HORRIBLE PARENTS) and Regan is just whining about "me, me, me, and how hard this makes MY LIFE." Again, realistic for a teenager at the time probably, but also probably not what many of the teens picking this up are going to want to read.

I probably would have given this book a one star if the author had done what WHTLG's author did and killed off the trans character but thank GOD she did not. I gave an extra star for that. WHTLG got a four star review because it was the first book I ever read about trans issues and I credit it with making me want to seek out more books about the LGBT+ at a time when they were pretty hard to find in most libraries. I probably would have given this book a higher rating too if I had read it as a teenager, but reading it as an adult mostly left me with horror at how wretchedly poor Luna was treated.

Some people will probably enjoy it but I think some people might actually find it seriously distressing (and it's bad enough that I think it could, potentially, elicit anxiety in someone with that kind of trigger). So if you're interested in this book, make sure you read the warnings and go in with caution.

2 to 2.5 stars
Profile Image for Amy.
401 reviews29 followers
January 6, 2008
This book is an amazing step forward in YA literature. Other reviewers have given you the premise of the plot, I just wanted to add that I thought it was BRILLIANT that it was told from the sister's point of view. Within the largely conservative area I live in, not a lot of people would be interested in this book had it been told from Liam/Luna's point of view. But as it comes from the sister, it's a safe vantage. It's the perfect vehicle for introducing a LOT of people to an issue they might not have understood, nor something they would have wanted to understand. I do think, looking at it analytically, that this book is more useful as an advocacy tool than one of the fictional self-help sorts. At any rate, it's a giant step forward in YA lit for transgender issues. And it's a well told, well written story to boot.
Profile Image for Sarah.
394 reviews134 followers
February 9, 2017
Overall I did really like this book. There were a few things that could have been better but it was good.

Firstly, I thought this book was interesting and it kept my attention throughout. This book is really simple in terms of language, story and writing style and that simplicity had its pros and cons. A pro was the fact that it was so simple that it was really easy to understand and I think that is good because younger readers can grasp everything very easily. Another pro to the simplicity was that it was a quick book to read and the last pro is that because the story was so simple, it is easy to just focus on Regan and Liam/ Regan and Luna. The biggest con for me, was the fact that the simplicity took away from deep emotional insights from Luna. I got the emotion behind why she wanted to transition but I feel like I needed more emotion and more heartbreak.

I liked the fact that it was from Regan's POV. A book from Luna's POV would have been very different (could have been worse or better). I think a perfect book would have been one with multiple POV's. I didn't particularly like Regan that much. She seemed really selfish to me but her insight gave us a view into that of a person with a transgendered sibling.

I didn't mind the representation of Luna. I know a lot of people say that it's a bad representation because not all transgender girls are like Luna but it's important to note that Peters was just giving one example of a transgender girl. If she had numerous transgendered females and they were all the same then I would have a problem with it.

The ending was a bit abrupt. I would have liked it to have been more fleshed out or something else like a prologue about what happened to Luna and Regan. A little closure would have been nice.

I would recommend this book and I would read another book by Julie Anne Peters.


“Out of sight, out of mind. My philosophy of life in a test tube.”
Profile Image for Caitlin.
499 reviews29 followers
June 17, 2013
This book sort of bothered me in many ways. It wasn’t because it dealt with transgender issues; I was pretty excited to read a book about a trans* teen especially since I haven’t seen or read a lot of YA literature that dealt with that. It was more because of the way it was handled.

Peters is a believer of authentic voices, so she portrayed the narrator as the sister of Luna - a 16 year old boy, Liam, who is struggling with keeping her true identity a secret. Unfortunately, this placed most of the focus on the sister, Regan. It was all about Regan: how tough it was to keep the secret, the pressure it placed on her, how afraid she was when Liam experiments with revealing Luna in public. Although these pressures are very real, I had wanted to read about the experience of a trans* teen, not that of a trans* teen’s sister. Many times I thought it took away the focus from Luna, which was slightly disappointing. It also made Liam/Luna seem selfish and needy, always asking much of Regan. Regan, of course, asked for barely anything in return except a “normal” life.

One major thing that bothered me (spoiler alert): Regan is asked to babysit on the weekend, and having no social life, she agrees. Of course, this is when the hot guy asks her out. As repayment for all that Regan has done for her, Liam offers to babysit so that Regan can go on her first date. Great. Except Regan doesn’t tell the family about the new arrangement. She comes to the house, has the hot guy pick her up there, and Liam arrives after the parents leave. Regan’s plan is to return before the parents get back. Obviously this does not work out, and she walks in the door right when the parents are interrogating Liam about trying on the wife’s clothing.

My problem with this was that first of all, Regan was incredibly irresponsible. No wonder the parents flipped - even if you completely put aside the fact that Liam was wearing the wife’s clothing, the parents basically walked in the house to find some kid they didn’t know. As a parent, I would have been upset to find someone who wasn’t the babysitter in my house, especially with no babysitter in sight, right? So, she loses her job but blames it on Liam, who the parents of course think has some sort of disease and tells their mother (she told them off - props). Anyway, I also don’t think a 16 year old kid would risk his secret to try on the clothing of someone he was babysitting for. Is that just me? I just found that a somewhat unrealistic scenario in general, particularly because it is frequently mentioned that Liam has a secret stash of clothes & Regan allows him access to hers.

Liam’s excuse for this is “I couldn’t help myself”. This is where I started getting frustrated. No you cannot help yourself for being who you are - but I felt that sent somewhat of a condescending message. It should be more along the lines of “This is who I am” not “I couldn’t help myself”. It makes it sound like Liam has a lack of self-control, some sort of drug that she just has to give into. It’s the same excuse people make when they try to claim that homosexuals are pedophiles - “oh they just can’t help themselves”. It makes them sound like deviants. It’s wrong. I thought that Peters should have done without that little passage, because it’s not that she “can’t help himself”, it’s that she was born in the wrong identity. This came up a few times in the story, and it really bothered me every time because I just felt it was the wrong language to use. I was also confused by what the preferred pronoun usage was since it goes back and forth (and if it does in this review, that is why).

Don’t get me wrong - Peters did do some research. I was still compelled, curious as to what would happen. And Regan does learn in the end to truly accept and understand her brother. It’s definitely pro-transgender, and maybe it would help some teens learn a little bit more about gender identity issues in general (even if I thought it was condescending & heavy-handed at times). Through Regan, the reader can learn a little bit about transitioning and the concept of gender. Hopefully, readers will be inspired to do some research on their own. Even though I was not fond of the way the characters were portrayed (I found Regan whiny at times & my issues with Liam/Luna’s portrayal I addressed above), they were still fleshed out and felt (for the most part) realistic. If you give this book to teens to read, be prepared to talk about gender with them.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jennifer Wardrip.
Author 5 books479 followers
December 1, 2012
Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com

LUNA is the first book I've ever read that deals specifically with transgender issues. Although you get a feel for what the book is about by reading the back copy--in effect, that Regan's brother, Liam, is a woman trapped in a man's body--you don't get the full spectrum of what this actually means until you reach the end of chapter one.

"Rolling over, I muttered, 'You're such a freakshow.' Her hair splayed across my pillow, tickling my face. 'I know,' she murmured in my ear. 'But you love me, don't you?' Her lips grazed my cheek. I swatted her away. As I heard her slog across the floor toward my desk--where she'd unveiled her makeup caddy in all its glory--a sigh of resignation escaped my lips. Yeah, I loved her. I couldn't help it. She was my brother."

Liam is the type of boy who, even as a small child, wanted to by the Mommy when he and Regan played house. For his ninth birthday, he asked for a Prom Barbie and a bra. Now, as a senior in high school, Liam is consumed with letting out Luna, the name he's taken for his female self. His dad, of course, is adamant that his son will finally play baseball. His mother, lost in a world of uppers and downers, pretends not to notice when her son offers to fix dinner or do the laundry. And Regan, the only one who knows her brother for who he is--a sister named Luna--is losing sleep and a chance for her own life by hiding the secret.

Something has to change, and it finally does when Luna decides to go all the way, to actually become Luna, the woman he knows he is. But what will it mean for his family, especially Regan, who has spent so long loving her brother, protecting his secrets, being a part of his life? It might just be time for Regan to have a childhood of her own, and for Luna to come out of the darkness, out of the shadow of the moon, and into the light.

LUNA is an emotional, heartfelt read that deftly deals with the issue of transgenderism in a way that makes it believable and important. I had never really thought of what it must be like for someone who believes they were born with the wrong body, but after reading LUNA, my heart and support goes out to anyone who has ever suffered with this issue. This is a book not to be missed.
Profile Image for Emily Ann.
60 reviews2 followers
January 16, 2012
My 5 star rating may be a little misleading.

In a [future?] world where hundreds of great lit (YA and otherwise) is written with trans characters, where trans people feel less silenced and less invisible, I think this is a really great book.

In the current reality, I have some problems with this book. They mostly are about silencing the trans voice by giving control of the narrative to the trans character's cis-gendered sister.

I think it made the story more palatable because we hear about the pain and confusion and hopelessness all second hand. We watch Regan deal with her own struggles while exploring feminism and experiencing discrimination all while one-removed. Luna's distress is painful to observe from the distance at which we see it, but we only get glimpses.

I came away with the impression that the story was told from Regan's perspective because for it to be told from Luna's (and for it to be authentic to the story/characters), it would be too dark.

While Regan's struggles are real, and I found myself identifying with her frequently, I also noted that this would not be a book that I would hand to a trans person. It is a book I would hand to someone who isn't at all aware of trans issues to help them start thinking about them.

That category of book is important to have, to be sure. And it certainly still pushes the envelope to have a trans character in the foreground at all. But I wanted more from the book. I wanted Luna to not be pushed back to the supporting character just because we might find her struggle to be too painful to handle.

Maybe, though, I just want more from all the books.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,155 reviews642 followers
August 12, 2009
Luna, by Julie Ann Peters, is an exceptional book. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars as it pushes the boundaries of YA literature to unchartered territory and does it so flawlessly. This is like no other book I’ve ever read, and one that will stay on my mind for quite some time. It was beautifully written, with perfectly developed characters that were wrapped around a subject matter that got me to rethink how I feel about topics not commonly discussed.

The focus of the book is extremely sensitive as it centers on a transgender teen. However, to be able to embrace the characters and understand their plight, you have to put aside your beliefs of gender expectations and what is considered acceptable in society.

The narrator of the story is a fifteen year old girl named Regan. Her brother Liam is undergoing a gender transformation. At night, in the privacy of their rooms, Liam transforms to his female form known as Luna. Regan loves her brother and accepts her brother who is slowly becoming her sister. Regan is the confidante and friend that Luna needs to be able to accept who she is and embrace her decision to live the life she was meant to have.

This book helped me understand the struggles transgender individuals encounter. I have a new awareness and sensitivity toward their struggle. Peters' novel should be praised for breaking ground on a topic not normally discussed or accepted. I also feel the book did a beautiful job of portraying a loving relationship between two siblings who hold each other near and dear regardless of their choices. It was emotional and well written. I would recommend this book without hesitation.
Profile Image for K.
21 reviews1 follower
August 20, 2008
I am so glad this book exists! While working in a public library a few years back, I came across Luna, and have recommended it a hundred times over ever since. It is one of the few young adult books I have seen so far that addresses the reality/experience of transgender teens, which has been needed for years! (Before this book, it was the Francesca Lia Block books that I would love for addressing queer youth experience. They are classics and address issues of gender for sure, but I appreciate the clear and stated trans themes in Luna so much.)

Having worked within the trans and transyouth communities for a number of years, it made me so excited to see a book in which a trans character is depicted in a realistic and respectful way. Trans youth need to be able to see themselves reflected in the stories they read, and this book is one step in that direction. (One step because it is one, particular, transgirls experience...)

The book does a great job of integrating language and terms common in the community (FTM, MTF, pre-op, post-op, no-op, etc) and having Luna (the trans character in this book) explain them to her sibling and/or come across them in internet searches for connection.

I would recommend this book to anyone craving a tale that is packed with information as much as storyline. Go Luna!
Profile Image for jessica.
32 reviews8 followers
April 19, 2021
✦✦✦✦ / 5 stars

Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, I thought. An exquisite and delicate creature, unfolding her wings and flying away. Except in Luna’s case, the butterfly is forced to rein in her wings and reinsert herself into the cocoon every day. Every single day, she has to become this shell of a person.

This is the first book I have read which deals directly with transgender issues.

I am not educated enough on the subject to provide the usual detailed review (which I plan to fix in the near future), but I will say that this was incredibly emotional and moving.

I did greatly enjoy it.
Profile Image for Emma Getchell.
17 reviews3 followers
December 1, 2016
I read this book back in sixth grade. But I still remember the impact it had on me. By the end of this book, all I wanted was another book continuing life for her. I hadn't really ever put much thought into people that were born feeling like they should be someone else. It just never really crossed my mind. This book opened my eyes up to a whole new world. I was able to get a better understanding, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who is open minded toward this subject. Maybe, even to the people who are skeptical about people like Luna. It was nice to get a perspective on it. I just loved it. I don't exactly remember the style of writing it had. But when reading a book that heart felt and touching, you wouldn't care if it were good or bad. Therefore, I give it 5 stars
Profile Image for Jess.
784 reviews12 followers
November 14, 2009
I cried and cried while I read this book. But don't read it unless you are ready to think hard about some tough issues and stereotypes.
Profile Image for Kristen.
167 reviews77 followers
May 31, 2015
3/5 stars

“Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, I thought. An exquisite and delicate creature, unfolding her wings and flying away. Except in Luna’s case, the butterfly is forced to rein in her wings and reinsert herself into the cocoon every day. Every single day, she has to become a shell of a person.”

The Skinny:
This is the story of a young man, Liam; a boy on the outside, yet a girl on the inside. By night, Liam is Luna, a girl who loves make-up and fashion. By day, Liam is an introverted boy who is only a shell of a person. Told in the voice of his younger sister Regan, we are privy to not only the trials and tribulations Liam must face in order to become Luna, but also the confusion Regan feels as she tries to simultaneously protect her brother and accept all of his changes.

The Review:
As I was reading many of the other reviews for this book, a huge source of contention for other readers was Regan’s ‘selfishness.’ Apparently Regan was an unlikable narrator due to her self-centered nature, which impacted peoples’ enjoyment of the novel. I have to say that while Regan was selfish at times, I did not dislike her as a narrator because of this. In fact, I felt that Regan was a more reliable narrator because of this character trait; what young high school student is not egotistical? As a high school teacher, I can say virtually none (I say so lovingly, because I too was like this :D). Also, I feel that some of Regan’s decisions and feelings were warranted. For as long as she can remember, Regan has been protecting her brother’s secret – I think that this would take a toll on anyone.

What impacted my enjoyment of the novel, far more than Regan’s selfishness, is the cardboard quality of some of the characters and situations. In particular, I felt that the relationship between Regan and her parents was pretty cliché. Regan’s mom plays the aloof parent, while her dad plays the mans-man father. Sorry, but I’ve seen these types of parents far too often in books and movies. I also felt that the relationship and dialogue between Regan and Chris was cringe-worthy at times. Regan is the ‘clumsy girl’ always falling and breaking things (hello, Bella!), and Chris is the hot guy that goes for the misunderstood girl. There dialogue is frequently cheesy and awkward (yes, high-schoolers can be awkward, but this was a bit TOO much). I feel that Regan and Chris could have been very sweet, but instead I just felt that they were…blegh.

Despite the manufactured quality of some of the characters and happenings, I did like reading about Liam. I don’t know if ‘like’ is the right word. I felt for Liam, and I felt for his struggles. I found Liam’s story to be painful, but also interesting; this is the first book I’ve read about this subject matter. It saddened me to know that Liam felt like he had to keep his true self hidden. While this story was fictional, I know that there are people out there who have had to hide as well. I can’t imagine how painful of a thing that must be, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.

I liked the subject matter of this novel because I haven’t really read anything else like it. I wasn’t totally sold on the story because of the cardboard quality of some of the characters and events. This being said, I loved Liam’s character. I felt that he was really eye-opening and made me think and consider things I hadn’t before.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,283 reviews217 followers
June 3, 2018
Julie Ann Peters’s LUNA, published in 2004, was one of the first stories about a teenager transitioning.

Liam is transitioning from his assigned gender to her real identity as Luna. Only her younger sister Regan knows. Regan tells the story of her brother’s transformation, suicidal feelings, eagerness to live authentically, bullying and parental gender expectations. Regan risks everything to support her brother (she uses brother and sister/he and she, interchangeably depending on whether her sibling is dressed as a boy or girl).

As sympathetic as I was to Liam/Luna’s struggles, my heart went out to Regan. Her entire life revolved around supporting Liam, whether he woke her up in the middle of the night for fashion advice, protecting him from their father, concerns for his mental health, lying to friends and family. At times Regan realized her sacrifices, though Luna was in so much pain she put her own needs ahead of her sister’s every time.

Their parents her a hot mess, dysfunctional with a capital D. Their father pushed gender stereotypes onto Liam, their mother pretended everything was fine. Both parents threw passive aggressive barbs to each other.

Readers who only understand transgender rights and life from a 2018 perspective may see LUNA as very dated. Calling 15 years ago a period piece may seem premature, but those who remember 2004 know that gays weren’t allowed to serve openly in the US military (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) and couldn’t marry. A few states had domestic partnership laws, but they were far from the norm. Transgender was about as foreign to most families as if a kid said he was actually a pilgrim from the 1600s who wanted to dress in pilgrim garb and spout puritanical beliefs. I’m not equating mental illness and transgender, just using a hyperbolic simile. At least in 2018, most people have heard of transgender and many teens have classmates who are gender nonconforming. They may enjoy a story that shows how far we’ve come in their life time while still knowing how far we still need to go.
Profile Image for gio.
1,010 reviews386 followers
March 2, 2016
Recommended and sent by Lys. And then she dares deny she's puccia.

Anyway, this was both cute and meaningful. And well, sad and frustrating and all the FEELS.

I do not know if I can write an english review in this case. I'll try my best.

Liam is a girl. He has always felt like a girl and he's been hiding the real him (or her, really) for all his life. The only one who knows about Luna, Liam's true self, is her sister, Regan.

I don't know how realistic Luna is, because I really can't imagine how difficult might be to find yourself in that situation, but it felt realistic to me. I'm not talking just about Liam's struggles, but also about Regan. Regan has to keep her sister's secret and being the only one who knows is difficult, because she is Liam/Luna's outlet for her problems. She wants to help and she tries to understand Liam's need to be Luna in her presence, but at the same time she has problems of her own.

The characters were quite interesting. I really liked that, in spite of loving her sister, Regan also felt like she was drowning in Liam's problems. As much as she loves her she can't help but feel embarassed when Luna shows herself in public or when she sees her brother behaving like a girl in front of her friends. Liam's life is painful because he has to hide who he is, but Regan shares his burden, because he is blind to the fact that what he does affects his sister too.

This is the kind of book I want to see shelved among ya contemporaries. Meaningful, bittersweet, eye opening.
Profile Image for yt_rhi.
17 reviews
November 3, 2017
THIS BOOK WAS GREAT. SUPERB, WARMING, CRY WORTHY. NOT A WASTE OF PRECIOUS TEAR DROPPING IN THIS STORY. OKAY? OKAY! So this transgender transition book was so SO just, everything. I read it over the weekend and I want to marry it and take it to Vegas. I don't even want to marry people, thats how great this book is. there better be another book, If not I will kill someone.
Profile Image for Hallie.
249 reviews11 followers
November 17, 2011
I really, really wanted to like this book because there is not enough (massive understatement) positive representation of transgender characters in YA fiction. But the narrator took over the book and made it about herself, not about her trans sibling Liam/Luna. I don't know what the intent there was - probably to show the internal struggle one would have to go through to accept a trans family member. But she ricocheted between juvenile self-involvement and acting as a mouthpiece for PSAs about trans people. There has to have been a better way to get that objective information into the book without having the narrator go totally out of character. And the whole "I'm so clumsy I'm a danger to this boy I like who can't possible like me" schtick was totally lifted from Twilight. It was excruciating. Verdict: if you're going to write a book about a trans teen, actually write it about that character, not about her incredibly irritating sister. Two stars for effort and tackling an important topic, but please, try again.
Profile Image for Miranda.
3 reviews
October 18, 2011
This book is getting really good. Luna wants to tell he's parents that he is a girl. Thats what he wants to be. No a man but a woman.
Profile Image for Moriah.
151 reviews18 followers
November 25, 2019
I read this in high school and loved it. Totally forgot about it but It’s one I want to reread
Profile Image for Claire (Book Blog Bird).
1,050 reviews38 followers
October 2, 2018
This was quite a short book but it told a really interesting story about a girl's relationship with her transgender sister.

Regan's older sister, Luna, can only come out at night. Because by day, she's trapped in the body of Liam, a boy constantly under pressurre from the people in his small town to be more of a man, do sports and other gender-conforming crap.

This book really focusses on Regan's story and how Luna's transition affects her, as well as the stuff she's going through at school. Her family live in quite a small, gender-conforming town, so obviously that doesn't help them in the slightest.

As a character, Luna was quite underdeveloped, which was a shame considering the point of the book is her decision to transition and how this affects her relationship with Regan. And the only thing we really learn about Luna, is that she is totally and utterly self-obsessed, and yes, I know that makes me sound like a complete arsehole because transgender folk have to deal with a whole level of life-crap that I can't even begin to comprehend, but she was really annoying. She was like, 'It's all about me! ME! ME! ME!' I don't recall her showing a single shred of kindness towards Regan, other than when Regan was doing something for her.

So there. I'm a terrible human being.

NB - if you want a book about a transgender girl where the MC is totally relatable and just makes you want to weep, try If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo.

Because Luna is quite underdeveloped and the story is told from Regan's POV, I would hesitate to call this a trans book. We don't see anything of Luna's thoughts or hopes or fears - only how her transition affects Regan and forces her to deal with small-town smallmindedness.

There was also a really interesting relationship with Regan and Liam/Luna's parents - their mum has recently set up her own (successful) business and their dad is doing less well career-wise, so they are both challenging gender norms too.

Despite Luna's intense annoyingness, this was still a decent read. The plot rattles along quickly and the sparse narrative flows really well, so I ended up finishing it in an afternoon.
Profile Image for Pauline Destinugrainy.
Author 1 book190 followers
July 6, 2017
Regan sering terbangun tengah malam. Tepatnya dibangunkan oleh kakaknya, Liam. Malam ini Liam membangunkannya untuk memberitahukan bahwa dirinya sudah menemukan nama baru. Luna. Seperti bulan yang hanya terlihat di malam hari. Demikian pula dengan Luna, yang hanya bisa menjadi dirinya di malam hari.

Sudah lama Liam merasakan bahwa dirinya adalah seorang perempuan, yang terlahir di dalam tubuh laki-laki. Hanya Regan yang tahu tentang status transgender yang dialami Liam. Seringkali Liam masuk ke dalam kamarnya untuk mencoba berbagai pakaian, wig, dan segala macam asesoris wanita. Regan memahami saudaranya itu. Hanya saja, rahasia ini terlalu berat buat Regan. Apalagi Luna berkeras ingin menampilkan dirinya. Dia tidak ingin bersembunyi lebih lama lagi.

Isu LGBT akhir-akhir ini kembali mencuat, seiringan dengan kasus penolakan terhadap salah satu gerai kopi ternama. Sebenarnya sudah banyak novel yang mengangkat topik tentang LGBT. Hanya saja masih sedikit yang menggunakan sudut pandang diluar tokoh yang mengalami LGBT. Di novel ini, pembaca diajak untuk memahami bagaimana seorang adik menerima kondisi kakaknya yang di mata orang lain dianggap tidak normal. Regan harus menjadi tameng sekaligus teman bagi Luna. Regan bahkan merasa dirinya tidak bisa hidup normal seperti orang lain.

My brother was a black hole in my universe. He was sucking the life right out of me

Novel ini juga menjelaskan bahwa seringkali transgender dianggap sama dengan gay. Padahal kedua hal tersebut berbeda. Luna di dalam novel ini menolak disebut sebagai gay. Karena sedari kecil, dia tahu di dalam dirinya dia adalah Lia Marie (nama yang digunakan Liam sebelum berganti menjadi Luna), dan bukannya Liam. Luna pun mengalami penolakan, bullying dari lingkungannya, bahkan dia berpikir lebih baik berhenti hidup daripada menjadi orang yang bukan dirinya.

Novel ini pernah diterjemahkan oleh Gramedia dengan judul sama dalam lini teenlit. Tapi saya lebih suka dengan cover aslinya. Cantik sekali.
Profile Image for Steph.
1,890 reviews269 followers
May 10, 2011
Luna was born Liam. When we meet him, he's a high school senior, but he's known he is a girl trapped in a boy's body since he was much younger. When Liam was nine years old, he asked his mom for a Barbie and a bra. Then, at his party, he couldn't understand why, after having given the list to his mom, he didn't get the presents.

His younger sister, Regan, is the only other person who knows his secret. The secret doesn't just weigh heavily on Liam/Luna, it's also taking its toll on Regan. She loves her brother and does all she can to help him become the person he was always meant to be.

The scene in the very first chapter draws you into their story completely:
❝Rolling over, I muttered, "You're such a freakshow." Her hair splayed across my pillow, tickling my face. "I know," she murmured in my ear. "But you love me, don't you?" Her lips grazed my cheek. I swatted her away. As I heard her slog across the floor toward my desk - where she'd unveiled her makeup caddy in all its glory - a sigh of resignation escaped my lips. Yeah, I loved her. I couldn't help it. She was my brother.❞

Luna spends many nights in Regan's room transforming herself into someone who "can pass". It truly breaks your heart. She doesn't want much more than to just be able to "pass", meaning be out in public without people pointing and staring at her.

Throughout the story, we see their mom struggle with the knowledge, you know she has deep down, but won't admit, by taking uppers and downers, avoiding her family by keeping herself immersed in work. Their father insists Liam play baseball, knowing that he's not interested. Regan, on the other hand, supports Liam to the point where she is losing sleep and feels unable to fully take part in her own life for fear of the secret she keeps.
❝My brother was a black hole in my universe. He was sucking the life right out of me. It seemed as if I was being pulled into this crater by a force I couldn't fight. Liam was already down there. We were together at the bottom. The crater was deep and dark and closing in on us. We couldn't move, couldn't rise, couldn't see to find out way out.❞

Liam reaches the point where he's ready to take the final step, stop pretending, start becoming. The butterfly on the cover is a perfect representation of his struggle. Regan says it best,
❝Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, I thought. An exquisite and delicate creature, unfolding her wings and flying away. Except in Luna's case, the butterfly is forced to rein in her wings and reinsert herself into the cocoon every day. Every single day, she has to become this shell of a person.❞

This was an amazing story of two strong teenagers that, due to prejudices, were forced to be less than their true selves and, because of those prejudices, suffered needlessly. I long for a day when all bisexual, homosexual and transgendered children (and adults, for that matter) can be themselves without fear. Fear of isolation and humiliation. I hope I'm alive when we, as a nation, realize that "normal" is subjective to each person and no matter what "normal" is to you, I ACCEPT YOU.
Profile Image for Helena Miller.
47 reviews4 followers
October 24, 2009
This was a National Book Award finalist and I can see why. In many ways, it's a typical young adult novel with a girl struggling with her family, her brother, and a new love interest. The love-interest part was cute but fairly typical. The fact that her brother, however, is transgender (he was born physically a boy but feels like a girl on the inside) is NOT typical of YA literature and adds incredible complexity. I think the author realistically portrayed this struggle, not making it any simpler for readers just because the typical reader might be in high school. It's not a difficult read but it is something that, for me at least, gave me a glimpse into a world that I did not fully know about before. Amazing--strongly recommended.
Profile Image for Kjersti.
101 reviews8 followers
July 29, 2009
If it wasn't for the whole transgender issue this would have been such a snore fest. In fact, Regan's love affair with Chris reminded me of all the Babysitters' Club books I used to read when I was eleven; clichéd, clumsy and over-the-top "funny". Peters' writing is nothing to get excited about and Luna/Liam comes across as a flaky character who can't help herself and must. cross-dress. at. all. times. Transgender teens (and adults, for that matter) is such an important issue and thus I would actually recommend it as a YA novel. Still I can't help but feel that Luna wouldn't have gotten any attention at all if it was on a less controversial topic.
Profile Image for Brigid ✩.
581 reviews1,818 followers
September 2, 2010
I learned a lot about transgenders in Race & Gender class (yes it's a real class, haha) last year, and until then I didn't fully comprehend how hard it is to be a transgender. Everyone who doesn't have the opportunity to take such a class, you should check out this book. It's very eye-opening. It was interesting how it was from the sister's point of view, because it showed how her brother being a transgender affects their whole family. You can really feel Luna's pain, how badly she wants to "pass", etc. The writing is good, the characters are easy to sympathize with. Wonderful book. :)
Profile Image for Dorian.
106 reviews7 followers
September 16, 2018
This book was just super weird TBH. Basically just 248 pages of a cis person ranting that it is SO HARD to have a trans sister. And then there was a bunch of other stuff that just felt kind of off and strange. I guess it just felt like the kind of book cis people read to show they are open minded or something, not necessarily a book that is powerful (or empowering) to trans people.
Profile Image for Angigames.
1,227 reviews
September 10, 2017
Sinceramente sono enormemente delusa da questa lettura.
Visto il tema trattato mi aspettavo molto di più.
Solitamente i temi “scottanti” quando vengono riportati su carta, riescono a creare una certa sinergia tra il lettore e la storia raccontata, i suoi personaggi.
Aspettavo di emozionarmi, di versare lacrime, di sentire almeno un nodo in gola...
Forse perché il libro è troppo Y, forse non ero nella modalità adatta, ma sta di fatto che sono diverse volte che lo prendo in mano, leggo diverse pagine e poi lo ripongo sul comodino perché non mi cattura, ma stavolta era giunto il suo momento, me lo sentivo! Infatti l'ho divorato in poco tempo...
Sono tante le cose che non mi hanno convinto, la prima tra tutte è sicuramente Regan, protagonista insieme al Liam/Luna, nonché voce principale.
Regan è una ragazzina, nel senso più odioso del termine. Non fa altro che fare figure barbine a destra e a manca e lamentarsi del suo QI nella norma, cade come una peracotta appena i suoi occhi si posano su Chris, solo perché il nuovo compagno di classe le ha chiesto di fare coppia a chimica... e ti pareva che Regan fosse una ragazza “normale”, figuriamoci popolare, è no in questi tipo di libri che affrontano temi importati, le coprotagoniste sono tutte sfigate e impopolari.
Liam/Luna è il fratello che si sente una lei e che deve convivere con diverse maschere, lui sicuramente è quello che mi è piaciuto di più, ma avrei enormemente gradito leggere i suoi POV, perché le sue parole, le sue azioni, filtrate da quella scienziata della sorella in certi casi mi hanno fatto alzare gli occhi al cielo, Liam/Luna si rivela un personaggio molto prevedibile e stereotipato!
In questo libro mancano un vero e proprio approfondimento dei personaggi e una loro crescita significativa, ci rimettono pure i genitori dei due fratelli che vengono classificati come dei piccoli mostri. Adesso, sono pienamente consapevole che nel mondo esistono genitori tutt'altro che amorevoli e comprensivi, ma penso che a causa del tema delicato di cui ci si vuole far portavoce, anche la questione parentale doveva essere maggiormente approfondita, in fondo non è mai facile, nemmeno per i familiari.
Sono arrivata alla fine arrancando, con un enorme delusione che premeva sul petto, sono quasi arrabbiata, poteva essere un libro bellissimo, occasione SPRECATA!
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