Genre – Young Adult, GLBT
Year of Publication: 2006
Narrative Style – First Person narrative, chronological timeline
Synopsis: Regan’s brother Liam really wants to be a girl. He has always known that he was a girl. At night, he dresses as Luna, his true self and named in honour of the moon. The story is told from the point of view of Regan and shows the problems that both Liam / Luna and Regan face.
I was quite excited to start reading this. It seemed it would touch on gender issues that I find very interesting and also be something new and exciting. It is exactly the sort of issue that books for teenagers and young adults should be tackling. And it does, successfully I think, show some of the issues that transgender teens face and also the effect on their families.
However, ultimately this book did not fulfill that promise. There were a number of reasons for this. The first was stylistic. I found Regan intensely irritating. To be fair, her voice was recognizably teenage and I am willing to admit that if I was sixteen or so, I probably wouldn’t have found it so annoying. She came across as having very little personality of her own. It may be that this is a side effect of her family situation where she focuses on Liam / Luna so much but it didn’t lead to her being a very engaging protagonist. Personally, I think it would have been more interesting for Liam / Luna to have the narrative voice as after all this was her story.
This lead to difficulty at the end of the novel which ends at a positive moment for Liam/Luna but leaves the story hanging in terms of Regan. As we have found out about other aspects of her life, it would be nice to have some closure on these too. It’s as if she isn’t even the centre of her own first person narrative. Even the writer just dismisses her in the end. Also, it lets everyone else off the hook. Because Liam leaves, the opportunity for just not dealing with the situation is given to his parents.
The other issue I have is to do with stereotypes. This novel seems to be full of them. The stereotypical masculine father who only wants his son to play sports and never gives up hope that one day it will happen. The pill-popping working mom who ignores all family issues. And of course, any feminine gender stereotype you care to mention in terms of Luna’s personality. There was some danger of associating femininity with vanity as when she was Luna, she became obsessed with her looks. Understandable I suppose, given the circumstances. But a little irritating all the same.
Maybe it is true that when you feel you are living a life that is not your own, that you will take any opportunity to dress as your alter ego, but there seemed to be a suggestion that Liam was unable to control his urge to be Luna. This led to him dressing up at a neighbours house, going through the wardrobe of the mother of the children he was supposed to be baby-sitting. This, and the extreme reaction of the children’s parents when they returned, was one of the least convincing moments in the book. It made Liam seem less sympathetic and I didn’t really believe he would risk it all in such a way. Not when he was so careful about other aspects of his life.
Overall, it was an interesting attempt to tackle a difficult subject but one, for me, that didn’t quite make it.