18 Classics of LGBTQ Literature

17 of 19

Luna cover (Image via Hachette)

16. Luna

Published in 2003, Julie Anne Peters’s book is one of the first young adult novels to feature a transgender main character. Though the story avoids tropes such as drug use, rampant sex, and other supposed vices, Luna is still sometimes banned in schools.

Though the titular Luna is the main focus of the novel, the story is told from the perspective of her sixteen-year-old sister, Regan. On the surface, Regan is an apparently normal teenager: she’s awkward, has a crush on a boy in her chemistry class, and experiences difficulty navigating her relationship with her parents.

However, she is also keeping a secret. Her sibling is transgender. During the day, she has a brother, Liam. At night, however, Liam transforms into a girl, her true self. Though Regan’s sister initially takes the name of Lia Marie, she later changes it to Luna (“moon”) to reflect her nighttime transitions.

Complicating the secret is the siblings’ family life. Their parents are both fairly conservative, along with many other people in their community. Their father, Jack, is especially concerned with his “son”. Jack believes that men should participate in traditionally masculine activities, while girls should be more feminine. He worries that “Liam” may be gay, given that he’s uninterested in athletics and other “manly” activities. When Luna finally comes out to her father, he grows confused and angry.

However, the relationship between the two sisters is central to the novel. Though Regan sometimes resents Luna for the mess of secret-keeping and gender navigation, she ultimately loves and supports her sister. Though Luna does not face an easy path as she builds her new identity as a woman, she can at least rely on the respect and strength provided by Regan.