The Book Reviews – Website

December 19, 2010


Luna by Julie Anne Peters: Book Cover



Author: Julie Anne Peters


Page Length: 248


Reading Level: 6


Genre: Fiction         

PLOT SUMMARY: Regan awakens to the sounds of Luna, her sister/brother, carousing through her room—applying make-up and trying on clothes.  Liam, Regan’s older brother by day, is a transsexual (a girl in a boy’s body).  However, this is a secret between the two siblings.  By day, Liam, a handsome, academic genius, is one of the most sought after boys at school.  By night, he addresses himself and has Regan also refer to him as “Luna”, as he steps into his female role.

As Regan struggles to cover for Liam’s/Luna’s strange behaviors and lack of desire to compete on the school’s baseball team, she also struggles through her classes at school that Liam often causes her to miss.  Besides having a girl for a brother, Regan’s parents are also dysfunctional.  Her dad lost his manager’s job at Sears and has had to take a menial job at Home Depot.  Her mother is a wedding planner, who pops pills throughout the day.

Regan tries to have a normal life at school, and becomes interested in Chris, who is her chemistry partner.  However, when Liam decides he is going to “come out” and have a sex change, Regan can concentrate only on Liam’s actions, and how his parent’s and his long-time friend, Aly, will react to Liam’s decision.

Throughout the book, Regan has flashbacks trying to figure out exactly when she knew Liam was a girl in a boy’s body.  She finally realizes that she knew a long time before he actually admitted it to her.  When Liam finally appears in make-up and girl’s clothing to his parent’s, Regan realizes that her mother has always known about Liam and did not do anything to help him. Regan also learns that Chris knows about Liam, and has no problem with accepting Liam as he is. 

After years of fighting Liam in his decision to “come out” and have a sex change, Regan learns that he will be happier and, better still, so will she as Liam lives his life as “Luna”. 

REVIEW: The subject of transsexuals in a high school book is a bit edgy and controversial.  However, this book was written from Regan’s point of view and is realistically presented in how a sibling may deal with this situation. 

This book could be used in a study of diversity and tolerance. Julie Anne Peter’s approaches controversial subjects in the way that young adults perceive them, which makes her books appropriate to read.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: transsexuality is the theme of the book, there is also some mild profanity

AREAS OF TEACHING: Character, Compare/Contrast, Point of View and Theme

RELATED BOOKS: Define “Normal”, Keeping You a Secret, Far from Xanadu, and Between Mom and Jo

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: The Bond (2007, documentary), Just Call Me Kade (2001, documentary)


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner


Looking for Alibrandi

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Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta: Book Cover

Looking for Alibrandi

Author: Melina Marchetta

Page Length: 313

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Josephine Alibrandi is 17 years old and attends St. Martha’s Catholic School for Girls. She is a senior and plans to study law after graduation.  Josephine has four best friends who all have different backgrounds and personalities but somehow seem to “click”.

Josephine lives with her Italian grandmother and mother.  She has never had any type of relationship with her father.  Josephine is aware that she is illegitimate, but knows that her mother has done the best job she can as far as raising her as a single parent.  Her mother has a lot of wisdom and lives a rather no-nonsense life.  Her grandmother is very attune to Old Italian customs and is protective of Josephine. Eventually Josephine meets her dad and begins a relationship with him – first as friends, then as a father/daughter relationship. 

Josephine is aware that two boys from adjoining community schools have interest in her.  She feels that John Barton has all the characteristics a good husband should have, but she is more attracted to Jacob Coote, who is not so well-polished.  A relationship develops with Jacob; however, she continues to share interests and a friendship with John.

As the plot develops, Josephine begins to talk with her grandmother about her immigration to Australia.  Josephine learns secrets about her family that explain the types of relationships they have.  She discovers that John is not the perfect guy. She also learns that Jacob is more sensitive than he appears, that nuns are not without sin, and that her friends’ morals and values are questionable.  In this entire discovery, Josephine begins to become a young woman with her own dreams.

REVIEW: This book has several subplots that influence Josephine’s life and future.  The relationships with her family, girlfriends, boyfriends, and the nuns at her school are all well-developed and relevant to her coming of age.  Because of the harsh language, I would recommend it to more mature female teens.  It is an excellent book with a lot of drama which most girls enjoy.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Character, Point of View, Conflict, Cause/Effect, and Comparison/Contrast

TOUCHYAREAS: harsh profanity (p. 55,126, 159, 160, 172, 183, 193, 226, 247, 253, 264, and 274)

RELATED BOOKS: Saving Francesca, Becoming Naomi Leon, Jellicoe Road

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Looking for Alibrandi (Australian film, 2000)


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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