Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 20, 2008

Luna Discussion

Filed under: Lit Circle Picks — katefrazer @ 8:28 pm

We had a great discussion about Luna tonight.  The book is about a transgender high schooler.  Liam was born into a male body, but knows that he is really a female.  His younger sister is the narrator of the novel, allowing readers to see not only Liam/Luna’s pain, but also Regan’s.  It was easy to see how much  of the turmoil of Liam/Luna’s struggle to be herself was projected onto Regan. 

We spent quite a bit of time discussing the family situation for these two kids.  While the father is not opened minded, we saw more issues with the mother.  I think the best term to describe her would be as a disinterested mother.  This left the burden of accepting and supporting Liam/Luna solely to Regan.  Joyce nicely called her Luna’s “secret keeper” because she is the only one reveal Luna reveals her true self too.  The novel also frequently potrayed Regan’s struggle with gender stereotypes.  Her parents expect her to come home and make dinner, even when Liam, the better cook, actually wants to do so.  She comes across problems of this type more than with just this incident.   

I don’t want to give too much away for everyone who hasn’t read this, but as Sarah said tonight, the book just had so much and there were points where it could have gone a different way, but Julie Anne Peters just keep up the quality of the novel.  All four of us agreed that this was a very good read.  I would definitely Luna to everyone else in class.  It really gave me a good picture of a topic I knew of, but knew very little about. Kate


  1. Thanks, Kate, for that great sum-it. I definitely enjoyed this book and will certainly use it in an upper level classroom for an optional.

    I have to give credit to Sarah for the “secret keeper” comment; she said it and I liked it. And maybe I liked it verbally for a while enough for it to sound like my idea, but it wasn’t. 🙂

    As Kate mentioned, the talk about parental roles and gender roles (even for the parents) was meaningful. We had no trouble at all connecting the J/F chapter on oppression to these.

    Kari brought our attention to a scene at the end of the novel that suprised us all, and in interest of being a “secret keeper” I’ll let you find out what I’m talking about on your own.

    This book was so fresh. Read it.


    Comment by joycehansen — March 20, 2008 @ 11:31 pm

  2. Thanks, Joyce, Kate and Kari for a great lit. circle last night.

    I want to continue with the “secret-keeper” discussion because I believe it encompasses so much of what we read in YA lit and what makes YA lit appealing.

    There are two types of “secret-keepers” and, to use a common text, in Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes you’ve got some great examples: Sarah and Eric primarily, but also Dale Thornton (who first learns and keeps Sarah’s secret – not mention some secrets of his own). Sarah is keeping her own secret; Eric is keeping Sarah’s secret in order to prove his friendship, loyalty, trustworthiness. My question is: at what cost?

    In Luna, Regan keeps her brother Liam’s secret, but loses herself in the process of supporting and protecting him. She can’t even get a break when she goes to sleep at night because Luna (Liam’s female identity)wakes Regan up each night to get an opinion on wigs, makeup and clothes, and to talk about the burden of being transgender. There are many more examples of this throughout the book.

    I think the idea of “secret-keepers” fits with Kari’s seminar as well. In Kari’s seminar last night about suicide in YA lit, we read an article about an American Psychiatric Association Alliance project called “When Not to Keep a Secret” that teaches and encourages kids how, who and when to tell a secret. Kari also provided us with a list of warning signs of suicidal tendencies. Among them, talking about committing suicide and has attempted suicide before, could be secrets revealed to friends. Those friends are then confronted with the burden of keeping the secret or telling someone.

    “Secret-keeping” is something that everyone can relate to on some level, so including this in YA lit can make a story about physical abuse, suicide, or being transgender more accessible to a wide range of readers.

    What do you think? Is “secret-keeping” universal? Which type of “secret-keeping” is more of a burden – keeping your own secret, or keeping someone else’s? What examples from other books we’ve read can you find of “secret-keeping”?


    Comment by sostrom — March 21, 2008 @ 11:04 am

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