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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER
... Claire, who tells us the story of WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER. It is a horror story about a person--well, let's say, a being--who arrives with his mother on Hackett Island, where Claire is a native. Sporting an unusual hairstyle and graced with delicate features, it is unclear whether LANI (pronounced "Lonny") is a boy or a girl. ...
Claire is a native. Her...
Published on October 7, 2002 by Richie Partington

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars does anyone know what REALLY happened to lani garver??
Before I began reading this book, I decided to check out the online reviews. Everyone raved about this book, which made me eager to read it. I found that the book wasn't as good as I had anticipated. The book leaves the reader with confusion as to what did happen to lani garver. The title should have a question mark after it because thats the question i was left w/ at...
Published on November 10, 2003 by Alyssa


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER, October 7, 2002
By 
... Claire, who tells us the story of WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER. It is a horror story about a person--well, let's say, a being--who arrives with his mother on Hackett Island, where Claire is a native. Sporting an unusual hairstyle and graced with delicate features, it is unclear whether LANI (pronounced "Lonny") is a boy or a girl. ...
Claire is a native. Her boyfriend is a member of the fish frat--"that's the sons of Hackett's commercial fishermen, who are sometimes lifeguards and usually very hunky." Her friends think she should be happy, set in her position among the high school elite, healthy after missing most of junior high due to treatments for acute juvenile leukemia.
But Claire, who still has her share of problems, sees the neatly folded boxes of her life crumble when she becomes friends with Lani. And what happens as a result is a tense tale that won't let you go.
"We don't talk about the drowning around the island. We don't really talk about what led up to it, either. If I hear Lani's name, it's usually in mentions of him having gone to our high school for only two days, and isn't that weird, as if the greater mysteries never existed. Maybe that's the way people need to remember it."
While reading WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER, my stomach all knotted up, I kept asking myself, "Could a whole group of kids really be this horrible?" ...
Richie ...
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do angels really walk the earth?, June 13, 2004
This review is from: What Happened to Lani Garver (Paperback)
Carol Plum-Ucci's novel, WHAT HAPPENED TO LANI GARVER, is so unbelievably remarkable that words cannot fully express its greatness. It takes place in locations I know and the story's protagonist, Claire, is nothing short of amazing. This novel is thought-provoking. It compelled me to ask questions I'd never asked myself. And, to my surprise, it even made me cry. Usually, books do not move me all that much - this book was an exception.
You will come to know and love Claire, a member of her high school elite on Hackett Island, close to Philadelphia. As I mentioned, this novel talks of many places I know, such as South Street, a whimsical place where, in real life, you can find "preps," people with countless piercings, tattoos, and hair hues, goths, rockers, etc. But WHAT HAPPENED TO... strays from labels.
Enter Lani Garver. Is Lani a he or a she? Well, although it never really is determined, we suspect Lani to be a boy. It's a difficult thing to confirm because he has the long lashes and red lips of a girl. He's tall and broad-shouldered like a boy. His hair is longer than the average boy's but his hands are a bit more on the masculine side. And he hates labels. Here, he refers to them as "boxes." "Gay" is a box. "Straight" and "bi" are boxes. As are "boy" and "girl." Upon first seeing him in the cafeteria, Claire is intrigued and says she'll be his friend, much to her best friend Macy's dismay.
Claire is a leukemia survivor who missed out on the junior high experience. Macy, kind and less judgemental than the other girls of her group, befriended Claire when she returned to school after being taught at home. Since their time spent together, they've collected many fond memories, many of them frozen in photographs. Macy deems Lani to be an odd character and is less drawn to him than Claire. Clearly, she gets jealous as a friendship quickly evolves between Lani and Claire.
Claire incessantly worries over relapsing back into her leukemia and is always looking for symptoms - bruises darker than average blemishes and orange-tinged blood. At The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, (BEEN THERE!!!) Claire meets a doctor named Marcus, who explains to her the theory of floating angels. At first, she thinks he must be joking and laughs, despite the fact he's totally serious. Marcus explains how angels are sexless beings, that you cannot tell whether they are male or female. Immediately, Claire thinks of Lani. Oddly enough, Marcus knows him, as does the rest of the hospital staff.
As their friendship grows stronger, Lani teaches Claire things she could have never possibly learned from her regular crew of school friends. Lani judges no one. He labels no one and has acceptance for everyone. Besides that, he's mind-blowingly intelligent and introduces Claire to new friends, people she immediately clicks with. But everyone on Hackett assumes Lani is gay, a box he does not want to be in, and they taunt him to no end. Claire's friends are genuinely worried about her and once they see she enjoys Lani's company and won't leave him, they go to drastic measures to try and "knock sense" back into Claire.
Plum-Ucci's novel is a dazzling piece of work, what YM magazine has called, "Gripping." Yet that word barely covers it. As Claire battles personal demons and questions her own sanity, you can't help but feel her pain as she narrates her story. And as you read on, you will come to understand the sad truth of a hate crime and how those involved will always be forced to pay their dues, more or less.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Thought-Provoking Good Book, August 27, 2003
By 
SARAH (Stanford, KY USA) - See all my reviews
Cancer, homosexuality, family problems, reality, eating disorders, stress, angels, a little bit of everything is covered in this book. It deals with the harsh truth of the life of a teenage girl, but has a twist when her little reality "bubble" comes toppling down. Claire thinks that her life is good, even though she does have some problems, but they're not anything she wants to talk about with her fun-loving friends. She ends up learning numerous valuable lessons, that you too are sure to pick up on.
Everything had started to go right for Claire, she was a cheerleader, was back in school, and seemed to be pretty healthy. But her whole world turned upside down when Lani Garver comes to her small island. Nobody can seem to figure out exactly what Lani is. Claire can't seem to resist her interest in this kid, and ends up telling him a lot of things that she has chosen not to share with anyone. Lani listens and helps her. But can she befriend such a "controversial" person? Calire ends up in a really big pickle to say the least.
Does she befriend Lani? If she does talk to this kid, what is everybody going to think, and more importantly do? All these questions are answered and more. Claire has many more problems than she likes to tell people. They end up being told eventually, but of course there are consequences.
People like to hide who they really are inside because they're afraid of rejection, and then criticize others who know more so who they are. But who are these people to sit and judge anybody else when they themselves are so confused about who they are? Lani Garver has his opinions about life and everything, and knows who he is. But he gets criticized because of his beliefs and looks. After hearing what happens to Lani and how Claire puts on such a fake identity it really makes you stop and think about yourself. Nobody should be judged based on looks, or who we hang out with, or anything such as this. We should love one another because of our differences, they're what make us special.
Everybody can get a different lesson out of this book to help us improve our everyday lives. It gives you a different out look on your own life, and how you live it. This book is best for high school students who like deep reading on thought-provoking controversial issues. It's just a book that you have to read for yourself. There's no doubt that you'll want to tell the whold world about it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars original spin on old tale, November 8, 2002
By A Customer
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This book uses issues like gay bashing, eating disorders and peer pressure to explore what is essentially a tale of sin and redemption. The teens in this book speak like they do in Hollywood movies, all self-consciously "hip" and snide. It seems like the author tries to shanghai an example of "teenspeak" such as "wild and happy parade of the teeth going" or "rule the cule" onto every page, and this makes it an awkward read. Most of the time, today's teens speak like everyone else, at least the ones I know, though of course they have their own catch-phrases.
The characters also seem strangely young at times. I doubt kids who are partying hard every week night insult people by remarking on their imaginary "boogers." That insult belongs in elementary school, at least when I was young. Adolescent girls are a little more sophisticated in their barbs by high school.
This was an original take on bullying, though, with several characters who were strikingly well-developed and did not fit into any "box" to quote one. I wish, however, the author hadn't tried to tie everything up in the final chapter. It reminded me of those movies where we get explanations of what happened to every character at the end, even the minor ones we could care less about (Like "Loser") I think a little come-uppance is great, but when cosmic justice is too neat (like this book) it erodes some of the believability that the author has worked so hard to create...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do angels really walk among us?, June 28, 2005
First of all, this is a GREAT book that is hard to put down once you start reading it. You'll wonder, do angels really exist? Lani (pronounced Lonnie) seems feminine and masculine at the same time. With his girlish features, he becomes the outcast at the high school....and it doesn't help that he's new to town either. Luckily, he finds a friend in Claire, who is in remission from leukemia and whose friends are too creeped out about her courageous battle with cancer to talk about it with her.

Lani, as Claire finds out, is a good listener and also gives good advice. But when the other people in town accuse Lani of being gay and propositioning one of the town drunks, things go a little haywire. Should Claire stick with the friends she's known for years or this he-she, Lani, who has only been around a few days? Is she seeing things conveniently or is what she sees the truth?

This book, once I opened it, was a hard one to put down and it kept me going right up until the ending. If you're looking for a book that will hold your attention and keep you on the edge of your seat, this book is definitely for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anatomy of a Hate Crime, September 22, 2002
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is all that I have been talking about since the moment I finished it.
At first glance, one might think Claire has it all. This high school cheerleader has a devoted best friend, a sought-after boyfriend and a group of elite buddies. But if you look closer, you'll see not everything is as it seems. Claire's parents are divorced, her mother slowly turns to alcohol more and more, and Claire is in remission from leukemia, which took her out of school for a year.
Enter Lani Garver, the new kid at school. He is a few years older and quite a bit wiser than his small-town peers. At first, his long hair, slight build and tendency to giggle make his classmates think that he is a girl. He sets them straight but is still regarded as a freak by most.
Claire's path crosses with Lani's a few times in as many days. A whirlwind friendship begins that defies the teenage laws of who you hang out with. With Claire as the protagonist, it becomes not just Lani's story but hers as well: her eyes being to open, and she learns - at times, the hard way - how the world works, how cruel some people can be, how kind others are.
This book is an amazing piece of work. It is a realistic anatomy of a hate crime that will make you think and leave you wondering about the state of the world. It is an emotional experience. I would not doubt that "What Happened to Lani Garver" will catch the attention of critics and book awards alike. This is the very definition of a must-read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wowza! This is a helluva book!, July 2, 2003
By 
"hexfly89" (Washington DC) - See all my reviews
I picked up What Happened to Lani Garver because a friend had told me "Don't have any expectations from the back cover... just read it and form your own opinions." That intrigued me, so I read it, and omigod I just read the greatest book of my life! What Happened to Lani Garver left me in shock.
Ok, so it dealt with your typical "hard issues" found in teen books these days: eating disorders, death, homosexuality, high school social pressures etc. (I say hard issues in parentheses not because these topics are to be taken lightly, but because these books are so loosely written that it seems as though every teenage girl has an eating disorder or has a boyfriend who commits suicide. not true. It also seems as though "teen books" are now being geared towards - and rightly so, judging by their content - to 11-13 year olds.) The great thing about that was that it didn't make them the central focus of the story. Claire, the main girl character, had an eating disorder, and Lani Garver, the main other character, had to help her with dealing with it - but that was merely a side story. Carol Plum-Ucci is very talented, and this is the perfect example of her capabilities.
This book was so refreshing, and just such a pleasure to read. I don't only mean that it was a good story, but it was almost like talking to a friend that you don't see very often- a real pleasure! I highly reccomend this book to everyone who wants a serious read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There are no words..., February 3, 2004
By 
Alida (Portland, ME, USA) - See all my reviews
This is a book like no other. Many times it has been said that "What Happened to Lani Garver" is not just the average teen book, and that is more than true.

When Claire, the typical first-person problem-teenager dishes out her problems to you in the first chapter, it seems like it is just that, however. But the way she tells them also piques your interest with her mention of the indian summer and the way she narrates with elegance while also convincingly filling the role of a once-cheerleader highschool beauty queen. It may seem hard to fathom to some that a book could possibly start by telling you of the death of a main character and summarizing the book for you, right in the prolouge, without ruining the impact the book has. But having read this masterpiece, you will understand. In fact, there are many, many things you will understand, even things you thought you were sure about, especially hate crimes and homophobia.

As I often do, I found that this book had great characters. Claire is ironic in her narrative, something I find fascinating, but the real star of the show was Lani himself. Now, I am in no way a religious person, so some of my friends thought I was crazy when I started to rave about a book that involved the concept of angels. But Lani is not a subject of God, or a God-fearing purist. Lani is just---Lani. Charismatic, intelligent, kind, but also definitly masculine Lani. He is the sort of character that you can't stand to think isn't real.

When you finish this book (because you must buy it, there is no question on that front), though, you will realize just how much hits home, and you yourself will wonder not just what happened to Lani Garver, but what is happening to our world. This is the sort of book that has the power to change a generation, if only people would read and accept it. So when you read this book, tell everyone you know to read it too. It's not just entertainment.
It's truth.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you care what they think?, May 2, 2005
This review is from: What Happened to Lani Garver (Paperback)
A basic high school setting. At lunch there's the popular girls, the jocks, the goths, the nerds and the outsiders. These are all labels including this one, "gay". Lani Garver, who is new to Hackett, knows this all to well. It's his label.

Claire McKenzie is the sweetest girl at her school. Before she became one of the in crowd she fought a rough battle with cancer. She went through it all, from the nasty comments to losing her hair.

When Claire first meets Lani her little world starts to change. First she thinks she's having a relapse, which turns out to be an eating disorder. Lani starts to show Claire a different world outside of hers on Hackett. He shows her new concepts like floating angels, these are people that help you then move on to someone new. Lani also teaches her not to place labels or stereotype people.

Claire learns from so many different lessons. Through these lessons she grows as a person. To some extent Claire gains everything but loses it all.

Through this book I have learned important lessons. For one, when I'm walking down the hall and people are staring at me. I just lift my head up a little higher.

I loved this book. It reminded me so much of my high school. The lessons learned are so meaningful. Read and find out what happened to Lani Garver.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You should always be nice to someone because you never know when you are meeting an angel, November 25, 2005
By 
What happened to Lani Garver? More over, who was Lani Garver?

Author Plum-Ucci introduces the reader to Hackett Island, a summer tourist destination with just the locals weathering out the winder. We meet Claire, who is in a cool clique at school, hangs out with hunky fisherman fraternity boys, and has a divorced mother who spends her evenings with too much perfume on in local bars. When Lani shows up at high school mid-winter, the island of Hackett isn't ready to accept the slender, sexually ambiguous young man. To Claire, Lani becomes an angel, a caregiver, and a provider. He gets her help when she isn't aware how desperately she needs it. Lani is street smart and wise beyond his years, and he is able to show Claire an entire world outside the closed minds of Hackett Island. To the rest of the island, and to Claire's mother, Lani is a freak, an outcast, and a threat. Plum-Ucci has woven a beautiful and touching tale about finding oneself and reconciling with your environment. Lani Garver was only in Claire's life for a few short weeks, but he left an indelible mark and changed her outlook forever.
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What Happened to Lani Garver
What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci (Paperback - May 1, 2004)
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