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What Happened to Lani Garver Paperback – May 1, 2004
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The folks on Hackett Island, near Philadelphia, are not too friendly to newcomers. Anyone the slightest bit different is eyed with suspicion, as Claire found out when she missed a year of junior high due to leukemia. Now she works hard at fitting in, following treacherous but popular Macy's lead, hiding her passion for the guitar, and never talking about her fear that her illness will return. Or her nightmares. Or her eating disorder. The boys of Hackett Island's "in" crowd are members of the "fish frat"--hunky sons of the local fishermen--and their horseplay even among themselves is brutal and edge-of-danger.
And then Lani Garver shows up at school, a tall, thin, strangely androgynous person. "No. Not a girl. Sorry," he says pleasantly when Macy questions him about his gender with vicious curiosity. But Claire, much to Macy's disgust, is drawn to Lani, and his wisdom and kindness begins to heal her. He takes her to Philadelphia to meet his artistic friends, talks sense to her about her eating disorder and her blind devotion to Macy, finds her a therapist. Who is this Lani Garver? He resists "boxes" like "gay." Even his age is a mystery to Claire. Strangest of all, could he be a "floating angel," as his friends at the hospital seem to believe? Meanwhile, the fish frat are closing in for the kill, and when their harassment turns lethal, Lani shows a terrible side of himself Claire has never seen.
Carol Plum-Ucci raises tantalizing questions around a fascinating character in this gut-clenching story that transcends the clichés of the gay-bashing novel. (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Claire McKenzie, narrator of this taut, provocative novel, wonders not only "what happened to Lani Garver" but about who and what Lani is. When Lani shows up on Hackett Island, neither Claire nor her cheerleader friends can tell if Lani is male or female (Asked if he's a girl, he says, "Oh! No. Not a girl. Sorry"). Claire has been hiding much of her identity, too: she conceals her electric guitar and the bloody lyrics she writes, and she doesn't tell her friends or her alcoholic mother that she suspects her leukemia has returned. When Lani finds her fainting, he pries her secrets out of her, then takes her to a hospital where she can get tested without parental consent. They bond, a bit quickly, as he helps her face her "hidden garbage," (among other things, her recent ill health is due to an eating disorder). When an orderly tells her about androgynous "floating angels," spiritual beings that help people in need, the discussion plants a question in Claire's mind, and as odd events continue, she skates close to asking if Lani might be one of those angels. Plum-Ucci's talent is such that readers will share rather than dismiss Claire's curiosity. The climactic scene, in which the boys kidnap Lani and Claire and take them to the docks, crackles with suspense. Even if not always convincing, the plotting exerts a sure grip, commanding the imagination well past the final page. Ages 14-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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First the good part. The main character, Claire missed a year and half of junior high because she was battling Leukemia. She's in remission and back on Hackett Island for high school. She hopes to put the past behind her and just be a normal kids. There's two small problems with this idea. First off she's got a huge pile of emotional issues she hasn't dealt with. Secondly the kids she is trying to fit in with are way to innocent and naive, and not in a good way.
The crowd that Claire is running with aren't a cute cuddly sort of innocent. They are dangerously reckless and selfish sort of innocent. Her cheerleading friends are mean and selfish and attention seeking. They all want to get with the boys of the "fish frat". The fish frat are sons of the local fishermen. During the tourist seasons they work as lifeguards. They are all big hunky brutes who drink too much and play dangerous macho games of chicken.
There is a legend on Hackett sound that if an Indian Summer falls in November it will mean a curse. Claire doesn't believe that but this particular Indian Summer she is getting dizzy and fears the cancer is back.
Into this walks Lani Garver. Lani Garver is so ambiguous that at first no one at school is even sure if he's a boy or a girl. Lani won't help them out much either. He claims to hate boxes, including boxes like boy/girl gay/straight.
Claire starts out trying to be nice to Lani. The tables are quickly turned and it is Lani who must be nice, and help Claire. He helps her sneak away to Philidephia to be tested at a free clinic for cancer, so her parent's don't find out. The more she learns about this mysterious run away, the more questions it raises. A strange conversation with a medic at the clinic about how angels have no gender leaves her wondering if Lani is even human.
To the rest of Hackett Island, and to her old friends in fish frat, the question of Lani is easily answered. He is an effeminate gay boy. As a closet homophobe ramps up the gay bashing, Claire watches in horror as her 'friends' choose the convenient answer (that he brings it on himself) over the truth.
It's a wonderfully written book that really sucks you in. It is powerful and moving. For Claire it is a story of hope and healing, for Lani it is a brutal reminder of just how hard it can be to be different in our society. Overall I would say it's a great book and should be read in every high school. Maybe the world would become a better place.
Good condition, arrived quickly, great price...very happy that I own it now and can't wait to start reading it again!
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...
A friend of mine had read it before me and barrowed it from our HS library and recommended I read it myself..
Was glad I did..some parts are rough, and I'm sure I shed a few tears at some points..so fair warning XD
Most recent customer reviews
One of those things of how depressing bullying and life is.Read more