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What Happened To Lani Garver

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Carol Plum-Ucci

The close-knit residents of Hackett Island have never seen anyone quite like Lani Garver. Everything about this new kid is a mystery: Where does Lani come from? How old is Lani? And most disturbing of all, is Lani a boy or a girl?<BR> Popular Claire … see full wiki

Author: Carol Plum-Ucci
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Family & Relationships
Publisher: Sandpiper
Date Published: May 01, 2004
1 review about What Happened To Lani Garver

I Used to Love Indian Summers

  • Jun 11, 2004
Pros: Great topics, fantastic characters, unique situations, clear writing, leaves you thinking...

Cons: Nothing.

The Bottom Line: Fantastic. I hope my review does the book well!

A few years back I picked up a copy of The Body of Christopher Creed, a previous book by Carol Plum-Ucci, and I found it to be amazing. When helping a patron at the library recently I saw a copy of What Happened to Lani Garver with author Carol Plum-Ucci and grabbed it before anyone else could. This was one of those books that I finished very quickly, but that I had to think about for a few weeks before I felt capable of writing about it. I still don't feel quite up to par for this, especially as this will be the first review on it, so if there's anything lacking in this review, please let me know; this book deserves the best.

This book begins with a prologue, of sorts. Claire, out heroine discusses Indian summers, and the supposed curse, or island legend that goes along with it. Claire lives on Hackett island, and supposedly, if an Indian summers falls in October it is good luck, but if one falls in November it brings a curse. As you can assume, this book has a November Indian summer.

Claire is afraid her leukemia may be relapsing; she missed some of the major years of school, you know, the time where you make codependent relationships that keep you sane through the possible horrors that make up "the best years of your life." (Hmm... excuse me for my cynicism.) Luckily, she's made friends with a group of popular, fun girls, though she sometimes feels a little distant. Her best friend Macy has the guts to say anything to anyone, and so when they spot Lani Garver in the cafeteria, they approach him. Or her? That's what they want to find out. "Are you... a girl?" Unable to control herself, Macy asks, and Lani says no (at least now we know.) Claire is drawn to Lani, though she doesn't know why, and despite Macy's attempts to keep her away from him, they become friends. Lani listens to Claire, she tells him about her leukemia, which she doesn't share with many people, and as time goes on she becomes curious about him. He's hard to read... how old is he? Is he gay (he has hinted at it...)? Why doesn't he care about his looks enough to make himself, well, more male? But Lani dodges these questions...

As you can guess, and as often happens in small towns and communities, which the island of Hackett naturally is, Lani is not very well accepted. A group of rather popular guys (know as the Fish-frat) accuse Lani of coming on to one of the crazier "members," named Tony Clementi, making Lani's new Hackett life even more difficult, but to Claire's surprise, Lani doesn't seem bothered by it. Lani continues to coach Claire on how to relax and appreciate life more, and he increasingly seems to focus more on her problems than his own. What also increases is the severity of Tony Clementi and the rest of the Fish-frat's dislike for Lani Garver, as well as Macy's dislike for Claire.

The suspense builds for a large portion of the book, which kept me reading, of course, and I eventually began confusing myself with Claire... it was that intense. What happens to Lani Garver? You get a taste for it in the prologue. But I haven't yet discussed a big topic in the book: angels, specifically floating angels. Is Lani Garver a floating angel? Claire thinks so, at least some of the time. And you may think so, too, but I won't say.

Carol Plum-Ucci hasn't written many books, but she is definitely a favorite author of mine. Like I said before, I felt like I was Claire at times, and I felt like I could hit somebody at other times... The author has this way of perfecting every aspect of the story. The characters were wonderful; I could relate to many of them, and the others I could easily put faces on or remember my own friends that were or are very similar. The language used is totally realistic, as are the events that take place. Though this book talks a little about sexuality, androgeny, angels, and other things, it does not preach, making it a perfect story for anyone.

The topics in this book are relevant to young adults (and heck, "real" adults, too), and are discussed realistically. Like I said, there is no preaching. What Happened to Lani Garver, however, is a powerful book that left me thinking for a long time. This is definitely being added to my all-time favorites list. You'll feel yourself grow as Claire realizes who she is, and after the book is over you'll surely be left with something (which is a great feeling, if you ask me). Don't pass this book up, whatever you do.


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