Sunday, July 8, 2007

What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci

I recommend this book for: high school

I didn't die, I've just been reading Harry Potter almost exclusively in preparation for the release (it's almost July 21st!), so I haven't finished any new books recently. Okay, on to Lani Garver:

My reaction to this book was an interesting mix of "Dude, that's awesome!" and "You've got to be kidding me!" with a little "Yuck, that's so disgusting it rings true" thrown in. Claire lives on Hackett Island, a vacation resort for rich Philadelphia people, but it's the off-season. She runs with the popular, dangerous crowd, but doesn't quite fit in because of her love for the guitar and the fact that she had leukemia in junior high. None of her friends have ever had something so serious happen to them. Throw in divorced parents, an alcoholic mother who thinks she's still one of the cheerleaders, and Claire's growing fear that she might be having a relapse. Basically, she's about to explode. Enter Lani Garver.

Nobody can tell if Lani is a boy or girl (although he says he's not a girl, he doesn't own up to the other option either), he can talk philosophy like nobody's business, and a small-minded community like Hackett is completely unready for him. Ugly gay-bashing words follow wherever he goes. But is Lani really just a gay kid, or is he something more? Claire is forced to wonder as he helps her through her crisis - could he be an angel?

The premise of the book is really interesting, and the action is definitely well-written, as is the dialogue. My main problem with it is that the conversations about angels wear a bit thin - Claire has to have it with every new character she meets, and that made it feel overdone. All in all, though, a great, unsettling, sometimes funny, triumphant story.

Parent note: lots of cursing, drinking, drug use, and references to sex and homosexuality - although the ugliest thing in the book is the things people do to one another.

What the experts thought.

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