Julie Anne Peters
|Julie Anne Peters|
January 16, 1952 |
Jamestown, New York
|Notable work(s)||Define "Normal" (2000)|
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 deal with LGBT issues. 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.
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 educational assistant in the Jefferson County School District in Lakewood, Colorado in 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. She maintains a website and a blog.
Peters lives with her partner, Sherri Leggett, in Lakewood, Colorado.
Summary of selected works
Rage: A Love Story
Johanna is a senior in high school living in the apartment above the home occupied her older sister Tessa. Both her parents have died and she has come out as a lesbian to her best friend Novak and her sister Tessa. A teacher ropes Johanna into tutoring Robbie, a boy with mild autism so he can graduate; Robbie happens to be 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 mother who is a drug addict and a violent uncle. Because Johanna believes she is in love with Reeve, she suffers through the emotional, verbal and physical abuse of the girl she wants as her girlfriend. Basically, the story follows Johanna who falls in love with Reeve who has suffered much abuse in her life. When their relationship struggles, Reeve begins to physically abuse Johanna who stays with her girlfriend despite the violence.
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-with clothes, a wig and make-up-into Luna, the start to a greater change. 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 surface-lusting over his best friend, Aly's, girlish birthday presents and singing and dancing to Madonna at Regan's slumber party. This book is determined to educate young readers about transgenderism: through Luna's internet research and "t-girl" mentor, Regan learns the appropriate transgender terms and issues, which are also shared with the readers. Peters succeeds in creating whole, complex characters confronting such issues. In a horrifying, yet melodramatic revelation for Regan, she realizes that their mother has known about, but ignored Liam's secret, deliberately putting Liam 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.
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, that 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 girl realizes it later in the book. 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 battling her father's suicide and her family's financial issues. There are many other instances of human drama, such as: Mike's morbidly obese, unspeaking mother and her flamboyantly gay best friend, Jamie in Mike's case and a drug-dealing past for Xanadu. This book is set completely in Mike's dynamic point of view and her aching hunger for Xanadu is apparent throughout the story. Peters sets this well, showing that 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. Peters book is lower on social realism than Kerr's, but it is far more dynamic.
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 and 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 choices. Nick is completely devastated when his Mom and Jo split, due to rising tension in their relationship. Since Jo has no legal claim over Nick, his mother refuses to let them see each other and she wants to be Nick's focus. Denied contact with Jo and having to deal with his mom's new partner, Nick becomes depressed and his family realizes that he can't go on living in that situation. More tension is added when 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. Though the book has an after-school-special feeling, Nick's voice makes any reader able to identify with the story.
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 had made suicide attempts before, but she is determined that this will be the last. She signs on 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 that method is. 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 her. Peters creates an unreliable narrator in Daelyn and gives her a distorted perspective that gives the story more than a will-she-or-won't-she plot base.
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 Internation 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 
- Evarts, Lynn (July 2005). "Young at heart: an interview with Julie Anne Peters". Lambda Book Report. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- "My Professional Author (And Extremely Boring) Biography". http://www.julieannepeters.com. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- "Julie Anne Peters". Retrieved 9 April 2012. Unknown parameter
- 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.
- Official website
- Julie Anne Peters on Facebook
- Julie Anne Peters on Twitter
- Works by Julie Anne Peters on Open Library at the Internet Archive