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Luna    by Julie Anne Peters order for
by Julie Anne Peters
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Luna is told from the point of view of thirteen-year-old Regan, whose life has long been burdened by a painful secret. Her genius brother Liam is really a girl, who used to call herself Lia Marie and has now decided that she is 'Luna', a 'girl who can only be seen by moonlight'. Their parents are oblivious and distant from the children, who oddly share a basement apartment. The father seems somewhat of a loser, an embarrassment to his teen kids - he tells bad jokes and tries to push Liam into trying out for macho team sports. The mother is incessantly busy with her wedding planning business.

Her 'living nightmare' of a secret has distanced Regan from school peers and even from old friends, aside from Liam's childhood friend Aly. But even this relationship is difficult as Aly has a crush on Liam, wanting him to grow into the 'man of her dreams'. Regan's escape is her babysitting job with the family she wishes was her own. But things change. We watch as newcomer Chris crashes his way into Regan's life, first looking for a clever chemistry partner, and later with deliberate interest. Their relationship is self-consciously hilarious, filled as it is with a youthful clumsiness, both physical and verbal. At the same time, Liam makes his/her own stumbling attempts to assert a female identity, encouraged by an Internet mentor named Teri Lynn. Though continually embarrassed by Luna's efforts, Regan loves her brother and helps as much as she can, usually to her own detriment.

Julie Anne Peters tells this tale of an extreme outsider with enormous sensitivity, showing not only the challenges of being so different for the individual most directly concerned, but also revealing the effects on those close to him/her - in this case a loving younger sister, a father who is unable to accept such a son, and a mother who retreats into a new life. Events build to a sad but liberating climax, when Luna finds the confidence and courage to free both herself and her sister Regan. Luna is a remarkable story.

Note: A PDF format Teacher's Guide is available for Luna.

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