Luna by Julie Anne Peters
Hmm, it’s been a while. Time to get back to reading for pleasure. My first pick: Luna, a young adult novel I picked up off the remainder tables at Chapters. Not only that, but it was a “buy 3, get 1 free” sale (which, yes! even applied to the remaindered books) so I think I got 4 new hardcovers for $20. Quel deal!
Onto the book. It had an interesting premise and it had that award sticker, so I figured at the very least it would be interesting from a writing perspective. So, in a nutshell, the book’s protagonist is Regan, age 16. The dilemma is that Regan’s older brother Liam is transgendered and is transitioning to become a girl (Luna). Regan is the only one who knows (or at least she thinks she is) and keeping the secret is taking a toll on her.
From a writing standpoint, it helped me sort out something I’ve been thinking about: why you would have the MC be an essentially passive character (I was thinking about one of my characters and trying to articulate to myself why she is the MC when she mainly reacts to others’ actions). In this case, it would seem logical to write the story from Liam/Luna’s pov, or perhaps one/both of the parents. At least, that would be the case if this were a regular novel (not YA). From a YA perspective, though, writing from Regan’s pov does make sense. After all, that’s a key characteristic of being a kid/teen–not having control of what happens to you. And an essential component of coming-of-age is taking control (acting instead of reacting). Ok, so now it seems obvious.
Anyhow, I read Luna in about 3 hours and I did like it, although I felt it had some problems. Characterization was a strong point. Regan was a relatable character, and in general, the characters seemed realistic. I did feel that it skimmed the issues a bit. The focus on Luna’s interest in makeup, dresses, shopping, etc. makes it seem like being female is tied to stereotypically girly things, which… sigh. While it’s true that Regan was the MC, so from her pov, why Luna knew she was female wasn’t really the key issue, as a YA issue book 😉 it seems like why Liam knows he is a girl could be articulated better—that is, something beyond the fact that he doesn’t want to do stereotypically male things (play sports) but does want to do stereotypically female things.
Quibbles… Regan’s series of clumsy mishaps, while amusing the first and possibly second time, went on way too long. And I didn’t really understand why, especially since Liam was apparently so well-known at school, no one would know who Regan was. That seemed contrived. People know who siblings are (especially when they’re only a year or two apart). I also thought it was rather convenient that Liam/Luna was a computer genius who was thus essentially independently wealthy. Most 17/18-year-olds are not going to be so fortunate—and so it left me wondering what the take-away would be for someone reading this who was in Luna’s position.