Books by Julie Anne Peters

Released: April 24, 2012

"Fails to dazzle. (Fiction. 12 & up) "
A ho-hum and largely affectless take on what is now well-trodden ground in LGBT teen fiction. Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2011

Kicked out of her father's house for being a lesbian, Alyssa adjusts to small-town life with the mother she barely knows. Read full book review >
RAGE by Julie Anne Peters
Released: Sept. 8, 2009

Love hurts. Dependable Johanna is drawn to mercurial Reeve, whose anger-management issues stem from her abusive home life. To express herself, Reeve hits. Johanna is thrilled just to be near Reeve in all her temperamental glory, even if it means alienating her best friend in the process. Reeve eventually turns her fists on Johanna, who remains loyal, lying and cheating to protect Reeve and her brother. Their relationship falters after Reeve's stepfather kills her mother and brother. From there, Peters rebuilds Johanna's and Reeve's lives as they explore their diverging goals for the future and confrontation of their individual losses of family. With very little back story to help them, readers may find it difficult to establish characters' relationships and histories right at the beginning. Any reader who's ever had a crush, however, will understand Johanna's head-over-heels feelings for Reeve. The subjects of sexuality, abuse and loss are difficult, but the author knows exactly how to move teen characters through them and toward a hopeful ending. The look at dating violence in same-sex relationships makes this book one that meets a need. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
GRL2GRL by Julie Anne Peters
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

Peters portrays a variety—but an inadequate one—of queer teenage girls. Though most of the protagonists are lesbians, some display other forms of queerness: a genderqueer girl, a female-to-male transitioning boi. Multiple lesbianisms are explored: In "Can't Stop the Feeling", Mariah wrestles with coming out; the anonymous heroine of "On the Floor," unconcerned with closeting, relishes the earthy sensuality of basketball; and Scar_tissu, the instant messaging protagonist of "TIAD," falls victim to a online emotional predator. The positive stories are emotional and sensual, with only tales of abuse offering any explicit sex. In a collection with myriad presentations of sexuality, the absence of bisexuality (except from one scornful comment) is glaring. Equally disturbing is the sole instance of asexuality, resulting from sexual abuse. After offering such a multitude of voices, this collection's removal of bisexuality from the queer spectrum furthers the invisibility bisexual readers already experience in queer and straight communities. None of these stories is strong enough to stand alone; a collection whose raison d'être is ideological should be more inclusive. (Fiction. 13-15)Read full book review >
BETWEEN MOM AND JO by Julie Anne Peters
Released: May 1, 2006

After his two mothers' marriage ends in divorce, 14-year-old Nick recalls key moments from his rocky childhood. Age three: screaming in the emergency room, a chin gash bleeding down his shirt, while mother Jo goofs around trying to make him laugh. Kindergarten: being called "Dickless Nicholas" when older kids hear about his lesbian moms. Third grade: Jo sarcastically confronting a homophobic teacher while Mom and Nick, horrified, try to drag her away. Age 13: Jo and Mom splitting up, Jo leaving behind a crushed and desolate Nick. Bitterness spirals into despair—Nick lets his beloved fish die and cuts his knuckles with a knife—until Mom allows him to go live with Jo. The narrative voice doesn't vary with Nick's age. However, Nick's need for Jo is palpable, despite—or because of—their gruff, unorthodox, rough-and-tumble love. An un-romanticized look at divorce and parent-child relationships, as well as an addition to the tiny canon about gay parents. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
FAR FROM XANADU by Julie Anne Peters
Released: May 1, 2005

Excellent characterization makes this piece shine. Mike's in her third year of high school in the town where she's always lived. When gorgeous Xanadu arrives (sent from the city for dealing drugs that killed someone), Mike falls head-over-heels in love. Xanadu is straight—but seems to be sending vibes. Peters weaves Mike's yearning for Xanadu together with Mike's love/hate feelings about her father, who committed suicide two years earlier. Mike follows in his footsteps by doing plumbing jobs with his old equipment. She excels at it, but she also excels at softball; which should she pursue? Must she leave this small town, or is everything she needs right here? Mike's a gritty and absorbing mix of pain and strength; Peters's other characters are also realistically complex (with the exception of Ma, whose fatness is used as a cheap symbol of dysfunction). Peters avoids casual assumptions—that college is necessarily better than plumbing, for example, or that gender is simple—to paint a memorable portrait of this girl and the small town she calls home. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
LUNA by Julie Anne Peters
Released: May 1, 2004

Groundbreaking, finely tuned realism about a transsexual teen. Sophomore Regan's own life barely exists because of the fierce needs of her 17-year-old brother Liam—who is, in Liam's heart, mind, and soul, a girl named Luna. Regan is Luna's confidant and support, and the only person who knows. Their cold parents refuse to notice hints; peers surmise (incorrectly) that Liam is gay. Regan and Luna's often-painful closeness has prevented Luna's suicide over the years, but middle-of-the-night dresses, wigs, and makeup aren't enough anymore; Liam can't stand to exist at all, and begins the transition publicly to Luna. Peters writes her characters with care and complexity. Regan's clumsy new romance and Luna's coming out to a lifelong friend who's in love with Liam shiver with tenuousness, but find hope. At the end, Luna's off to Seattle to begin the process that will end with sex-reassignment surgery and Regan's ready to focus on herself for a change. The first of its kind—well done and essential for every library serving young adults. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
KEEPING YOU A SECRET by Julie Anne Peters
Released: May 1, 2003

Holland's life is directed by those around her, her Mom, boyfriend, even her school's career counselor. Discovering she's attracted to the new, out-and-proud lesbian is not on anyone's agenda, however. Not that all has been smooth for this student-body president, busy with job, swim team, and school. Sex with boyfriend Seth is a take-it-or-leave-it deal, but when Cece's presence begins to cause an emotional reaction, Holland is stunned. Gradually the two girls become a couple; Cece pleads for secrecy and Holland acquiesces. The reason for the secrecy is slightly unconvincing, but Peters keeps the action flowing as Mom throws Holland out when she discovers what she's up to, and Holland discovers more resources in herself than she ever imagined. Holland's experiences will inform readers who are also discovering their sexual identity. Gay or straight, they'll identify with the excitement that accompanies that first love affair. At the heart is the realization that secrecy can damage many relationships, no matter the connection. Revealing. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

This third installment in the Snob Squad adventures lives up to its predecessors (Define Normal, 2000, etc.) by again blending humor with depth. Twelve-year-old Jenny struggles with her weight, which results in wry self-deprecation and the keeping of a food diary that evolves into a daily journal. Jenny is the sometime leader of the Snob Squad, a mix of four slightly outcast personalities. Tension is created in school by the obvious favoritism shown to Ashley Krupps, the principal's daughter. When money is stolen from the sixth-grade teacher's purse the Snob Squad sets out to prove it was Ashley's crime. Meanwhile, at home, Jenny's family struggles to forge a stronger family bond as they begin a weekly family night; her parents begin marriage counseling and her sister, Vanessa, battles anorexia. There are numerous red herrings as more money goes missing and no one, including Jenny's boyfriend, seems innocent. As evidence piles up against each character, neither Jenny nor the reader knows whom to blame. Even Jenny is not above suspicion. It is, however, a surprise when the culprit is finally revealed. By the close, everyone has learned that perfection is unattainable, but forgiveness, trust, and loyalty are the foundation of friendship and family. Eminently readable, it's a story strong in plot and memorable characters while offering some powerful insights on sustaining solid relationships. Jenny's sharp wit enlivens the story throughout. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1999

The Snob Squad is back (Revenge of the Snob Squad, 1998) and this time the four elementary-age outcasts need to come up with a project for the science fair. Although, in this group, science is nobody's best subject, a rat that Max captured in her family's junkyard provides inspiration, and they create an obstacle course for a study in rat motivation. It doesn't take Jenny—whose wry, wisecracking first-person narration is even funnier in this book—long to figure out that what motivates the rat is the same thing that motivates her: food. She's secretly sweet on Kevin Rooney, a fact that provides some counter- motivation; meanwhile, shy Prairie confesses that she likes computer-geek Hugh Torkerson. The squad rallies, especially since Hugh and Kevin are on a science-fair team with the girls' rivals, Ashley and Melanie. The book becomes strained when the problems become more serious; Jenny, the squad's leader, has a dysfunctional family, with estranged parents and an obsessive-compulsive, anorexic sister. The glib tone never meshes with such somber material, and the resolutions come abruptly. Fortunately, the characters, already solidly realized previously, are even better developed this time around, while the sweetly awkward first-time alliances with members of the opposite sex are nicely done. Most readers will skate over the rough spots for this well-paced novel and its many funny moments. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1998

Peters (How Do You Spell GEEK?, 1996, etc.) chronicles the trials and triumphs of a group of misfits, who call themselves the Snob Squad and take on the Neon Nikes, sixth grade's ruling clique. Overweight Jenny, physically challenged Prairie Cactus, sixth-grade bad girl Max, and whiny, overprotected Lydia make an unlikely relay-race team. But united in their opposition to the popular Neon Nikes, a team led by the principal's snotty daughter, Ashley Krupps, they band together as the Snob Squad, and achieve an uneasy camaraderie. As they get to know each other better ("It was weird. The feel of other people, the sounds of group chewing"), their fragile alliance blossoms into real friendship. In the meantime, worried about her daughter's weight, dropping grades, and social isolation, Jenny's mother wants to take her to a psychologist; Jenny attempts to get the appointment canceled, but by the time she makes the dreaded visit, she has, with the help of her new friends, pretty much figured things out on her own. Between bites of every kind of candy imaginable, Jenny provides a glib, fast-paced first-person narration, which is peppered with verbal repartee and humorous asides about her classmates. Peters's writing is smooth and funny page to page, which makes this an enjoyable read, despite some far-fetched plot developments. A great jacket painting of the four girls will have this jumping off the shelves. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
HOW DO YOU SPELL GEEK? by Julie Anne Peters
Released: Oct. 1, 1996

Decent Ann is assigned to show around Lurlene Brueggemeyer— the geek of the title, a home-schooled new girl with cowboy boots and weird hair. In the eighth-grade world of jerks, nerds, and geeks, Ann, a nerd, is cool enough to attract Brad McKenzie, a jerk; but she can't turn her back on the impossible-to-dismiss Lurlene, not even for her former best friend, Kimberly Tyne, who wants to be the ``Mary Lou Retton'' of national spelling bee competitors. Ann and Lurlene are ace spellers, too, and both are dealing with their parents' messy divorces. The three girls are brought together at the state spelling finals where Kimberly, pressured by her parents (``The little Hitlers''), loses; and Ann, usually the runner-up, gets her first, unfamiliar taste of victory. A thoughtful, wry, and very funny look at friendship and fitting in. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >
B.J.'S BILLION-DOLLAR BET by Julie Anne Peters
Released: May 1, 1994

From the author of The Stinky Sneakers Contest (1992), another Springboard Book featuring ordinary kids and their extraordinary mishaps. B.J.'s Mom has won the lottery but can't find the ticket. While she searches frantically, B.J. tries to get it back: He has secretly traded it to Mavis Mae. Since his friend's mom has now forbidden trading, B.J. makes a series of bets with her, losing precious possessions (including some not his own) to no avail; meanwhile, rather implausibly, he prevents Mavis Mae from learning the winning number. In the end, the ticket is destroyed in a suitably ironic manner and there's a homily about how ``Gambling makes you crazy''—as applied explicitly to B.J., but not to his mom's lottery habit. Entertaining light fare. (Fiction/Young reader. 7-10) Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1992

Peters debuts with a ``Springboard Book'' about a contest that surely could never be—but that will certainly elicit gleeful giggles. The ``Feetfirst'' company is sponsoring the unlikely event (as described in the title) for ten-year-olds, with the magnificent prize of ten pairs of ``Jaguar Jetstreams'' over the next ten years. Earl, one of six children, knows that winning would help his family; besides, he'd love—just once—to come out ahead of friend Damian, whose dad out west keeps him well supplied with things like new bikes but whose methods of winning don't always seem fair. Sure enough, Damian buys a pair of ancient sneakers for the contest, then ``cheats'' by seasoning them with rank cheese; but when he and Earl tie at the finish, he cancels out what he admits was unfair play: he throws the contest by using a ``Smell Repel'' insert. It's all rather obviously contrived, but kids will love it; and, while Earl's motto— ``Cheaters never prosper''—is not really borne out by the events, the debate about it is intrinsic to the story. Smith's freely squiggled, cartoony b&w illustrations (in which most of the characters are African-Americans) extend the lively characterizations and the humor. (Fiction. 7-10) Read full book review >