Julie Ann Peter's heart-warming novel Luna, was named a 2014 National Book Award finalist. While the book did not win the award, it presents an interesting and important narrative. Taking place in modern day society, this novel follows a year in the life of a teenager named Regan and describes her journey as she learns to accept her older brother's transgender identity.
By day, Regan's brother Liam is a popular teenage boy. But when the sun sets, Liam sheds his outer façade and becomes Luna: a beautiful young woman who loves sleepovers, makeup, and parties. Though she is younger than him, it seems that Regan is always taking care of Liam at school and home. From buying him women's clothes to covering for him at home by storing his makeup, Regan often puts her brother's needs before her own. Unfortunately, this takes a toll on her academic and social lives.
However, Regan still loves her brother. She thinks Luna should be able to be herself, but like all teens, Regan is afraid of judgment and humiliation.
Regan and Luna's home-life is not the best, either. Their dad pushes Luna to be the complete opposite of who she is, while their mom pretends to be clueless of Luna's struggles and immerses herself in her work. Ultimately, Luna is confronted with the gigantic decision of being trapped as Liam forever, or facing her family and becoming Luna, her true self.
At first, I was not sure how I felt about this book because the story moves slowly. But, observing the characters grow and change throughout the book really engaged me in their stories. I would suggest this book to middle and high school students who like realistic fiction. It is a great book, and I think most people can learn from it.