"Yeah, I loved her. I couldn't help it. She was my brother."Luna
by Julie Anne Peters
is a young adult novel about a transsexual
teenage girl's transition experience. Despite being about the titular Luna O'Neill, born Liam, it is told from the first-person perspective
of her younger sister Regan, who at the start of the story acts as Luna's Secret Keeper
and the only person who understands her and sees the girl in her.
The situation is complicated by their conservative father, a "manly man" who tries to raise his "son" in these values as well, and Alyson, Luna's friend with Incompatible Orientation
, who has a crush on Liam as a boy without knowing that such a person doesn't really exist. Meanwhile, on her front, Regan starts falling for a New Transfer Student
called Chris, but a series of misunderstandings and Regan's schedule overlaps with helping Luna conspire to keep them apart...
Unlike a lot of Gender Bender
fiction, the subject matter is very much not
played for laughs.
This novel contains the following tropes:
- The Alleged Car: Two of them, Dad and Chris's. Luna's, however, is anything but.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Zig-zagged. Regan actually thinks Luna looks more attractive than most GGs (genetic girls), but onlookers disagree when they realize who she is.
- Bittersweet Ending: Luna is disowned by Dad and has to abruptly drop school, but flies away to start her new life aided by Teri Lynn, looking forward to hormone therapy and SRS. Regan doesn't get her job back, but Luna passes on her belongings to her, and for the first time in her life she's free from the weight of her sister's secret disrupting her life. The novel ends with the sisters parting on good terms.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: An older sister with a reviled secret that complicates the lives of her family and friends, and a caring, compassionate younger sister who gives her the will to live. Eventually, the older sister runs away to embrace her new life, where she cannot harm those she cares about, and where they won't harm her. Yes, this predates Frozen by nine years.
- Dysfunctional Family: It runs over generations, apparently, as we learn after meeting the grandparents.
- I Know You Know I Know: Both Regan and Mom know Luna's secret, but neither knows the other knows, and is afraid all hell will break lose if the other also finds out.
- Incompatible Orientation: Luna and Alyson. Both straight, though, obviously, Luna isn't straight in the same sense Alyson thinks. Luckily, they stay friends.
- Interrupted Suicide: Regan stops it. In fact, let's just say the story would have been a lot darker if Regan hadn't existed.
- Meaningful Name: Enforced in-universe. After discarding the initial choice for a female name, Lia Marie ("too close"), Luna chooses this name as "a girl who can only seen by moonlight" — very early on, when all she does is dress up in Regan's room. Regan also calls her "Moon Girl".
- Mentor: Teri Lynn to Luna.
- Name's the Same:
- Luna, meaning moon, is understandably a popular enough name in fiction due to its symbolism.
- Dad's full name is not said outright, but we eventually learn that his first name is Jack. The family name is O'Neill. You do the math.
- New Transfer Student: Chris.
- Sadist Teacher: Bruchac appears like this to Regan at first, but she discovers that there's more than this to him.
- Secret Keeper: Regan.
- Secret Identity Identity: As expected given the subject matter, Luna is the real self while Liam is a mask she has to wear. Regan compares Liam letting Luna out to a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis... and then being forced to retreat back on the next day.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: "Liam" and Chris, when Regan compares the two. Then again, the former isn't really a guy anyway.
- Supporting Protagonist: Regan, the narrator, is the "Watson" (in both senses, see below) to Luna, the title character, observing her struggles from the side.
- Trans Equals Gay: Discussed. Luna is repulsed at the mere mention of this misconception, which fuels her hatred for Hoyt.
- Transsexual: Luna, duh.
- The Watson: Regan's unfamiliarity with TS terminology makes Luna gradually explain it to her — and by proxy, to the audience.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy