Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Peters, J.A. (2004). Luna. New York: Little, Brown and Company.


As an author, Peters has previously explored the experiences of gay and lesbian teens, providing a voice to readers who often feel marginalized. Luna is no different. A finalist for a National Book Award, the novel is told through the perspective of the younger sister of a teenage girl who was born in the body of a boy. Most of Regan’s life revolves around protecting Liam/Luna’s secret. Her world begins to change when she meets her new lab partner and love interest in chemistry class and when Luna decides to transition and achieve her dream of becoming a woman.

Peters does a wonderful job of showing the very ordinary moments of relationships as well as some of the most difficult moments. Luna is a good first step into a discussion of the transgendered experience and of gender roles. It includes both academic and commonly used vocabulary about gender expectations to open up a dialogue.  

The story itself feels very real and brings the reader into Regan and Luna’s perspectives. Regan’s sarcastic sense of humor and her interactions with her love interest, Chris, save the text from being too much of an emotional struggle for its readers, but does show how challenging it can be to support and keep the secret of a transgendered loved one.

The dreams and the goals of people are central to this story. Luna struggles to achieve her dream, while Regan struggles to learn what her dream is.

A number of other young adult issues are also present at the periphery of the novel. Most notable among these is drug use. It is implied throughout the text that Regan and Luna’s mother relies upon the use of pills, while working and avoiding issues she has with her family.
The ending of Luna does not feel conclusive, but leaves open for discussion what happens to its characters.

Activities to do with the book:

Discuss gender roles and expectations, the experience of being transgendered or the loved one of a transgendered person, sexual reassignment surgery, drug use, secrets, motherhood, fatherhood, raves, ‘the American dream’, family, dreams or goals, first dates, cheating, bullying, etc. The book also lends itself to reflection and journal writing. Students could be assigned to write an epilogue for the novel or the first chapter of a continuation.

Favorite Quotes:

“I knew now what my life was about: Waiting for guys to change their clothes” (p. 157).

“The lab experiment today was called Stoichiometry. Great. I couldn’t even pronounce the title” (p. 200).

“This was a calculation I’d need to know later in life, when I began my career as a high school dropout” (p. 200).

“I cried for her.
I cried for me.
I cried for a world that wouldn’t let her be” (p. 211).

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