Author: Julie Anne Peters
Pub: Little, Brown and Company; 2004
Genre: Young Adult; LGBT
Etc: National Book Award Finalist
This book is about a girl. Two girls, actually. Sisters, in fact. Except one, is genetically a boy.
"Luna," she repeated softly, more to herself than to me. "Appropriate, wouldn't you say? A girl who can only be seen in the moonlight?"
"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."
I stand before you completely honest when I say that even though I have no other books to base a comparison to, this book is amazing. Absolutely Amazing with an earned capital 'A'.
This book is important because it explores many sides of transgendered-ism (?!?). We share the secret with both Regan and Liam (aka Luna). We're in the basement while Luna tries on different dresses and contemplates going out into the real world as her true self. We're in Regan's head as she fights to find her own identity outside of the one her brother is struggling and suffocating her with. We're even thrown in their past when key indicators of who Liam is parade around at birthday parties and childhood wants.
This is not a novel one finishes and moves away from. It's not a commercial. It's not even an afterschool special, which I imagine so many trans young adult books can end up being.
My reactions were raw and sometimes not pleasant. Liam would anger me; Regan utterly pissed me off. And dear god, the parents - their chosen ignorance and absolute narrowmindednes made me wretch deep within.
I am not close to any transgendered individual, although I've spoken to a few casually at some of the clubs I've gone to. There is one woman, Danielle, who performs at one (she is also an entrepreneur and has her own restaurant in the area) - ANYWAYS - my guess is Danielle is about fifty. She's pre-op and will often make snarky comments about what it's like to "wake up in the morning, shower, and see bo*obs and a di*k". (Sorry spammers, no tricks for you!)
I am often amazed at the courage she had to have not just presently, but twenty or thirty years ago, when she was coming of age and figuring out NOT ONLY her sexuality BUT her gender. To me that's heroic and brave and honorable.
Danielle, although performs as a drag queen at this club, is not a performer. She **IS** a woman. She doesn't "dress in drag" for the night, make tips, and then go home in boxers and jeans.
Somehow, Julie Anne Peters manages to convey the smaller nuances in what it means to be transgendered. Aspects that, perhaps, as a born female-feel female person I wouldn't think of.
Our courier at our school is transgendered. She wears dresses, heels, earrings and make up to work every day. She gets her "hair and nails did" regularly and fought for her right to be who she is. She is also pre-op. I find myself defending her often amongst my colleagues and peers, individuals who are tolerant and accepting of homosexuality, but have somehow decided that this individual CHOSE to put herself out there as she has.
We live in a complicated world, and much like the book Luna teaches, we learn as we go. For me, though, I try to be as simple about Life as possible. If it ain't hurting anybody, why judge? As far as I'm concerned transgendered individuals have had to fight against the hardest enemy already - themselves.
(PS - Julie Anne Peters, I absolutely adore you. You've yet to disappoint me with any of your novels.)