YA author Julie Anne Peters died on March 21 after a long illness. She was 71.
Peters was "the award-winning and trailblazing author of more than a dozen books for young readers," publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers said. "Her acclaimed young adult novels were some of the first to feature the universal truths and particular challenges of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens."
LBBYR president and publisher Megan Tingley added: "Julie's books are a lifeline for so many readers. It is sad and ironic to me that her novels have been the frequent target of book banning when her stories are needed now more than ever. Her compassionate and unflinching depictions of teens struggling with sexual orientation, gender identity, depression, divorce, bullying, and suicide have elicited thousands of letters from readers saying, 'Your book saved my life.' "
Peters was a teacher and computer systems engineer before publishing her first book, The Stinky Sneakers Contest, illustrated by Cat Bowman Smith, in 1992. This was followed by several humorous middle-grade novels, until Julie wrote her first fiction for young adults, Define "Normal".
At the urging of her editor Megan Tingley, Julie started writing YA fiction featuring LGBTQ+ characters, beginning with the publication of Keeping You a Secret, a love story of two teenage girls, which was published in 2003 and was named a Stonewall Honor Book by the American Library Association and was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. She went on to write many more critically acclaimed and award-winning novels, including Luna, a YA novel about a transgender teen's struggle for self-identity and acceptance, which was a National Book Award Finalist. Her books have been published in numerous countries, including Korea, China, Croatia, Germany, France, Italy, Indonesia, Turkey, and Brazil and have sold more than a million copies.