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?" ...
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.
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!
This product's forum
Active discussions in related forums
Search Customer Discussions