Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In Which I Finish a Reading Group Novel

I read Luna, by Julie Anne Peters , for the book group and was excited by the concept. Brother, Liam, is transgendered and is slowly transitioning himself into Luna. The protagonist, Regan, is his loving sister. Obviously there would be conflict with mom and dad as Liam became more comfortable with becoming Luna and issues that would ripple beyond the home and into school, etc.

The problem is that I didn’t like any of the characters. Regan was boring. Luna narcissistic. The parents willfully oblivious and even potentially hateful. The dysfunction in this family was what completely turned me off because the implication is that only a boy raised in such a screwed up environment would not be able to accept his sexual identity and gender roles.

Ultimately, this book did not live up to its potential. And the climax towards the end of the book is resolved in such a cliché and unsatisfying manner that I honestly felt as though the author had written them all into a corner and was taking the easy way to get them out of it. Also, every character has waggly fingers. The adults waggle fingers at the children. The girls waggle fingers to flirt. I think at least five different characters waggle at one point or another.

My expectations for young adult literature are fairly high because I am very aware of the potential to really address some important social issues between the pages of a well written and thought out book. In the end, I didn’t think that this was either. But I commend the author for taking on a very ambitious and controversial subject and trying to present it in a manner that allowed the reader to be sympathetic. I’m sure that had I liked the characters more I would have liked the book much more. We may not be able to pick our family members but we can pick our friends and I wouldn’t have chosen any of these people to be my friend. A very subjective reason not to like a book.

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