Lunar Boy

HarperAlley. May 2024. 240p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780063057609.
Gr 6 Up–Indu is discovered on the moon by his adoptive mother Dariya, who picks him up during a space mission. Indu spends much of his childhood onboard the spaceship Eyesun, which houses an entire community. Indu comes out as trans to his mother at a young age and is easily accepted. However, he has to endure many changes when it is time for them to depart for New Earth—a futuristic, neo-Indonesian planet. Upon arrival on New Earth, Indu is immediately faced with several social challenges. He struggles with a language barrier, transphobia at school, and conflict with his older brother Alon. He is relieved when he starts to receive messages from the moon, which offer to take him back on the night of the New Year, but over time, Indu finds solace in a new pen pal and in the connections he makes at a queer community center. With a renewed sense of belonging, Indu regrets his decision to return to the moon and must decide to stay or go. References to Indonesian queer history emphasize that queer people have existed throughout time and in all cultures. Shifting color palettes set the tone, with warmer colors on New Earth and cooler ones in space. The authors seamlessly weave the lore of New Earth into the story, making it easy to understand without over-explaining. Themes of acceptance and the importance of community make this a great pick for readers who are coming-of-age or struggling with identity. While marketed toward middle grades, this book would be appealing for high school students as well.
VERDICT This heartwarming story about found family and finding yourself is an immersive and refreshing shift from traditional science fiction.

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