Julie Anne Peters
|Julie Anne Peters|
January 16, 1952 |
Jamestown, New York
|Notable works||Keeping You a Secret (2003)
By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead (2010)
Julie Anne Peters (born January 16, 1952) is an American author of young adult fiction. Peters has published 20 works, mostly novels, geared toward children and adolescents, many of which feature lesbian characters. In addition to the United States, Peters's books have been published in numerous countries, including South Korea, China, Croatia, Germany, France, Italy, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil. Her 2004 book Luna was the first young-adult novel with a transgender character to be released by a mainstream publisher.
Early life and education
Julie Anne Peters was born in Jamestown, New York, on January 16, 1952. When she was five, her family moved to the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. Her parents divorced when she was in high school. She has three siblings: a brother, John, and two younger sisters, Jeanne and Susan.
Peters received a B.A. in elementary education from Colorado Women's College in 1974, with a minor in French. She taught fifth grade for a year, until she and the principal mutually agreed that teaching was not the career for her. Peters then returned to school, earning a B.S. in computer and management science from the Metropolitan State University of Denver in 1985. During the next ten years, Peters worked as a research analyst, computer programmer, and systems engineer. In 1989, Peters earned an M.B.A. from the University of Colorado Denver with emphasis in information systems.
Peters first worked as a teacher, teaching fifth grade and working as a special needs education assistant in the Jefferson County School District in Lakewood, Colorado, 1975. Peters then worked as a secretary, research assistant, computer programmer and systems analyst for Tracom Corporation in Denver from 1975 until 1984. Following this, Peters was a computer systems engineer for "Electronic Data Systems" in Denver from 1985 until 1988.
Peters began her writing career with the publication of her first two books, The Stinky Sneakers Contest, illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith, in 1992, and Risky Friends in 1993.
Peters lives with her wife, Sherri Leggett, in Lakewood, Colorado.
- The Stinky Sneakers Contest (1992)
- Risky Friends (1993)
- B.J.'s Billion Dollar Bet (1995)
- How Do You Spell G-E-E-K? (1996)
- Revenge of the Snob Squad (1998)
- Romance of the Snob Squad (1999)
- Love Me, Love My Broccoli (1999)
- Define "Normal" (2000)
- A Snitch in the Snob Squad (2001)
- Keeping You a Secret (2003)
- Luna (2004)
- Far from Xanadu (2005) - later republished as Pretend You Love Me
- Between Mom and Jo (2006)
- grl2grl (2007)
- Rage: A Love Story (2009)
- By The Time You Read This I'll Be Dead (2010)
- She Loves You, She Loves You Not... (2011)
- grl2grl 2 (2012)
- It's Our Prom (So Deal With it) (2012)
- Lies My Girlfriend Told Me (2014)
- The Sawyer's Movie (2015)
Summary of selected works
Keeping You a Secret
Holland Jaeger, 17, is in her senior year of high school. She has a steady boyfriend and is under pressure from her mother to be accepted into an Ivy League school. Her life rapidly turns another direction when a new girl, Cece, arrives at school and Holland begins to question her sexuality. What starts out as a confusing "girl crush" becomes Holland's realization that she is in love with Cece. When Holland is outed as a lesbian to her family and friends, she faces homophobia and ostracism, ultimately learning to a build a new life for herself, with the support of her new girlfriend, Cece.
Regan is the only one who can see her older brother Liam's true self. Liam slips into Regan's room night after night to transform into Luna, using clothes, a wig and make-up, as a way to begin making a way toward a greater change in life. Regan is always there for Liam, sacrificing everything from sleep to grades to friends to help console, counsel and protect her brother. Liam is a constant disappointment to his conventional and conservative father, despite the fact that Liam is a straight-A student and computer genius. As Liam reaches a crucial turning point, Regan continues to have flashes of memories where Liam's true identity surfaces, such as lusting over his best friend, Aly's, girlish birthday presents and singing and dancing to Madonna at Regan's slumber party. Through Luna's internet research and "t-girl" mentor, Regan learns about appropriate transgender terminology and about a variety of issues affecting transgender people, which are also shared with the readers. In a horrifying revelation for Regan, she realizes that their mother has known about Liam's secret but ignored it, deliberately putting him in harm's way. With Regan's unfailing love and support, Liam begins the transition from a withdrawn boy into a vibrant young woman, full of hope.
Luna was the first young-adult novel with a transgender character to be released by a mainstream publisher, which occurred in 2004.
Far from Xanadu (retitled, Pretend You Love Me)
In this book, Peters sets a strong-willed butch lesbian in a small, close-knit, Midwestern town, based on M.E. Kerr's novel Deliver Us from Evie, which had been released ten years prior. Both novels focus on lesbian gender roles. In the first chapter, the main character, Mike, has an easy acceptance of herself and her orientation, without the reader knowing her gender until another character does. Mike finds herself falling for a gorgeous city girl named Xanadu and is determined to make Xanadu love her back just as fiercely, despite the fact that Xanadu is straight. Mike is also dealing with the aftermath of her father's suicide as well as her family's ongoing financial issues. Mike pines for Xanadu throughout the story. Xanadu knows what Mike wants and her responses are unpredictable to both Mike and the reader. Mike's spirit wins her the affection of the whole town when she's on the softball field and that further enhances her dream of playing at the college level.
Between Mom and Jo
In this novel, the protagonist, Nick, tells the story of growing up with two mothers: his birth mother, known as Mom, is a straight-laced lawyer; while her partner, Jo, is a no-nonsense laborer. The family deals with an array of problems like Mom's breast cancer, Jo's alcoholism, and the bullies that aren't tolerant of the family's lifestyle. Nick is completely devastated when his two mothers split, due to rising tensions in their relationship. Since Jo has no legal claim over Nick, his biological mother refuses to let them see each other and wants to be Nick's focus. Nick becomes depressed due to being denied contact with Jo and having to deal with his mom's new partner; and the stressful breakup endangers Jo's sobriety. Eventually, Nick's mom begrudgingly realizes that Nick and Jo have a strong bond that cannot be easily broken.
Rage: A Love Story
Johanna is a senior in high school living in an apartment above the home occupied her older sister Tessa. Both her parents have died and she has come out as a lesbian to Tessa and to her best friend, Novak. A teacher ropes her into tutoring Robbie, a boy with mild autism, so that he can graduate. Johanna discovers that surprisingly, Robbie is the twin brother of Johanna’s secret crush, Reeve Hartt. As Johanna tries to get closer to Reeve, she begins to experience some of the physical abuse that is part of Reeve’s daily life, living with a drug-addicted mother and a violent uncle. Because Johanna believes she is in love with Reeve, she suffers through emotional, verbal, and physical abuse.
By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead
This novel follows the main character, Daelyn, as she makes a promise to commit suicide. Daelyn has made suicide attempts before, but she is determined that this will be the last. She signs onto a website that guides and prepares people for their end, known as their "Date of Determination." The site suggests different methods to kill oneself and how effective and painful these methods are. In a neck brace and mute, Daelyn writes about her daily life in a web log as she waits for clearance from the site to kill herself. Her daily routine is broken when a pesky boy, Santana, sits next to her after class one day. Despite Daelyn's hostility, Santana won't go away. Though she is uncommunicative, Daelyn is adamant in sharing her story as her Date of Determination draws closer and closer. In a desperate attempt, Daelyn spills her story on a "Through-the-Light" chat room, but everyone ignores her, too absorbed in their own problems to notice.
Peters has won numerous awards including:
- KC3 Reading Award, Greater Kansas City Association of School Librarians in 1995 for The Stinky Sneakers Contest
- Best Book in Language Arts: K-6 Novels, Society of School Librarians International in 1997 for How Do You Spell GEEK?
- Top Hand Award for Young-Adult Fiction, Colorado Authors' League in 1998 for Revenge of the Snob Squad
- Best Books for Young Adults selection, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers selection, all American Library Association (ALA) awards, in 2000 for Define "Normal"
- Best Books for Young Adults selection and Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection, ALA, Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library and Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2003 for Keeping You a Secret
- Amelia Bloomer Project Recommended Feminist Books for Youth and Stonewall Honor Book, ALA, in 2004 for Keeping You a Secret
- Buxtehuder Bulle nomincation, National Book Award in Young People's Literature finalist in 2004 for Luna
- Best Books for Young Adults selection, ALA, Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, Stonewall Honor Book and Lambda Literary Award finalist in 2005 for Luna
- Rainbow REads selection, ALA, in 2005 for Far from Xanadu
- Best Books for Young Adults selection and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young-Adult Readers selection, ALA, and Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library in 2006 for Far from Xanadu
- Lamda Literary Award, James cook Teen Book Award, Ohio Library Council, Cybils Award finalist and Rainbow Reads selection in 2006 for Between Mom and Jo
- Golden Crown Literary Award finalist and Rainbow Reads selection in 2007 for grl2grl
- Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library and Cooperative Children's Books Center Choice designation in 2008 for grl2grl 
- "Julie Anne Peters". Contemporary Authors Online. 25 October 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
- "My Professional Author (And Extremely Boring) Biography". www.julieannepeters.com. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- "Julie Anne Peters". Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- Kraft, Carlie (18 October 2011). "Review: Keeping You a Secret". Teenreads. The Book Report Network. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
- Adams, Laurence (July–August 2004). "Julie Anne Peters: Luna". The Horn Book Magazine: 459. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- Adams, Lauren (May–June 2005). "Julie Anne Peters: Far from Xanadu". The Horn Book Magazine. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
- Capehart, Timothy (May–June 2006). "Julie Anne Peters: Between Mom and Jo". The Horn Book Magazine.
- Gershowitz, Elissa (March–April 2010). "By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead". The Horn Book Magazine.