Language in Luna and Boy Meets Boy

The most noticeable difference between Luna and Boy Meets Boy is the writing style and language the authors use, both from a narrative stand point and when referring to LGBTQ themes. In Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan seems to go out of his way to use that reflects the age of the narrator, a high school sophomore named Paul. Paul’s internal monologue is young; the sentences are short and concise, the language itself is simple. On his first date with Noah, Paul describes the surface of the pond where they ride in a paddleboat as being “like a wrinkled blue shirt, with small buoy-buttons, marking the distance of the water” (Levithan, 66). There’s no flowery language about the reflection of the sun like you might find in other YA novels, no use of excessive details, just a simple metaphor. In Luna, Julie Anne Peter’s narrator Regan seems to be telling the story of her sophomore year in hindsight, perhaps as an adult. Her language is more adult and any insertion of ‘teenage slang’ sounds forced and out of place. In a conversation with her father about her transgendered sibling, Regan is asked if Liam steals computers and sells them. After reassuring her father that he does not, Regan thinks to herself “what did Dad think Liam was? A stoner? A dealer? He was so not what Dad imagined” (Peters, 121). The use of the emphasized ‘so’ here serves to remind us that Regan is a teenager; the reader can immediately hear Regan’s exasperated tone. But such slang feels out of place in a book where three lines down, the narrator’s hand is described as being ‘melded to the doorknob’ (Peters, 121). Luna does an excellent job of describing the life of a sister watching her sibling transition, but the language sometimes removes the reader from the narrator. We forget how young she is and grow angry at how irrational Regan behaves.
But one thing that Levithan and Peters both do with ease is capture the complicated feelings of being young and LGBTQ, especially with their trans characters. Both Luna and Boy Meets Boy feature transwomen on opposite ends of their transitions. Liam is just beginning her transition into Luna and Peters captures the excitement and fear that she feels. Most of Liam’s character arc is defined by self-loathing and doubt; he won’t even keep a mirror in his room because he’s afraid of accidentally seeing himself. But as he transitions, his confidence begins to grow. After a trip to the mall, Regan describes Luna as ‘yammering away a hundred miles a minute’ and not noticing any stares directed at her. This reminds me of Infinite Darlene, who has more or less completed her transition. She exudes confidence, practically radiates it. In her spin off story The Quarterback and the Cheerleader, we begin to see some of the cracks in Darlene’s armor. She wonders that if by creating the person she wanted to be, ‘she missed out on creating a person that someone would want to fall in love with’. Both Luna and Infinite Darlene show the complicated feelings of being young and trying to figure out who they are and are written in a way that seems natural.

One thought on “Language in Luna and Boy Meets Boy”

  1. It was very interesting how you focused on the form and style of language used by the authors in each novel. It is interesting because in class we focused on the differences in language between young adult novels compared to other previous class readings. I assumed that since Boy Meets Boy and Luna were both young adult novels, there wouldn’t be much difference in language. I look at the surface layer fact that they both contain much more simplistic language. I didn’t look deep into the language differences of the two narrators. However, now I see the differences. Regan’s thought process and language is very mature for the average sophomore high school student. I wonder if that has to do with the fact that she is juggling her own personal struggles along with the struggle and responsibility of looking after Luna?

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