by: Julie Anne Peters
Little Brown and Company NY, NY 2004
Luna is a typical coming of age story. It is a story of siblings in their teens each struggling to find who they are and each looking to move into a world outside their disfunctional family. These siblings understand each other in ways no one else can. Still, they are teens and neither is aware of the damage their own struggle is doing to their sibling.
Luna is an LGBTQ novel. It is the story of a teen struggling with gender identity. It is the story of how hard it is to find yourself in a world that expects you to be something you simply can not be. It is about finding the strength and courage to be honest with the world about who you really are.
Luna is an outsiders tale. There are no surprises here. The transgender dynamic and sibling relationship is established in the first chapter. The point of view character is the sister of the transgendered teen. She is the protector, the peacemaker, the refuge for her sibling. The story is about her struggle. She accepts her sibling, but doesn’t believe anyone else will. She is an outsider because she must stand by an outsider, be impacted by an outsider.
The author is very free with her use of gender pronouns. The transgender character is identified as both he and she by the sister. Some of the gender use is “situational”. She uses the gender for her sibling that everyone expects. Some of the gender use is “role based”. She uses the gender based on how her sibling is actively presenting. Some of the gender use is simply the sister coming to terms with the reality of who her sibling really is.
This is a sweet and honest look at some of the emotional struggles family members may have with a transgendered sibling. Because of my exposure to the disability community I am very much aware that siblings and sibling’s emotions can get short changed when families are confronted with a “real” problem. This story allows the sister’s experiences to be “real” as well.
On the other hand, it doesn’t offer much of a lifeline to the point of view of the transgendered youth. There is definitely a sense of “It gets better”. There is a clear representation of the repression of role playing and the freedom to be who you are. But for all of the LGTBQ content, this is not an LGTBQ story. It is a sibling story.
I really do recommend this book. It’s a point of view that isn’t well represented in the literature. This book would be welcomed by the sibling of any “outsider”. I also think that it’s a generally LGTBQ positive rendering of a difficult family story.
This book is about gender, not about sexuality. There is some banter about being gay. The name calling is teen typical (if inappropriate, it still underlines character and it’s interesting that as supportive of the sister is of trans/queer she doesn’t hesitate to call a teacher retarded). There is teen attraction, but nothing beyond a kiss. I would say that makes this book very appropriate for pre-teens interested in the topic.