Welp, now that I am not falling off the words to songs I wasn’t even listening to…Strawberry reminds me that I have not posted a book review in a while. I will do that now. And maybe write a poem, since I am so disappointed with myself for not having written anything new lately.
Although I was kind of shocked because, when I was looking for poems to send in to the last magazine, I came across a poem that I remember having the idea for and then saying to myself that I would absolutely not write that poem…
Apparently I did anyway and just don’t remember doing it.
Now just watch. They’ll pick that one. They’ll pick it and I’ll be so mortified that I won’t even tell anyone I got another one published.
What Happened to Lani Garver
By Carol Plum-Ucci
Claire has done everything to fit in. She cheerleads, goes on crazy middle-of-the-night drives with her friends, and sticks to a strict diet so that nobody will think she’s a cow. Anything to make people forget that she missed a year of junior high because she had leukemia.
But then Lani shows up. Lani is tall and thin and androgynous, and within days, everyone on Hackett Island seems to have pegged him as the “gay kid.”
Claire doesn’t need anyone associating her with Lani, but she finds it hard to be cruel to him when he half-carries her home after she nearly passes out after cheerleading practice. He doesn’t know anything about her or the people of Hackett, and somehow that makes it easier for Claire to tell him about her drunken mother, the morbid songs she writes in her basement, and her fears that her leukemia may come back.
While Claire is finally finding she can confide in someone, the other islanders are quickly turning hostile toward Lani, making threatening calls to his house, stealing packages from his doorstep, and spreading rumors far and wide.
Then, one night, just as Lani’s made up his mind to run away, Claire’s boyfriend and some of the island’s other fishermen-to-be decide that a dunk in the icy harbor might teach both Lani and Claire a lesson…
This was a good story. I had trouble putting it down, and was admittedly sad when it was over.
I despise air-headed girl narrators, but Plum-Ucci transformed Claire so subtly into a thoughtful, caring character that I felt like I’d been tricked. And I liked Lani a lot, too. I won’t lie…I have a thing for the androgynous characters…and I was really pleased that Plum-Ucci didn’t make Lani creepy or into some kind of whining diva. He’s easily one of the best characters I’ve read in a while, even though we learn very little about his back story.
Most of the characters besides Lani and Claire could have been characters in just about any teen novel or movie…the stupid adults, the cruel popular kids and the alternately pitiable and stupid and brilliant not-so-popular kids…but I am pretty sure that I’ve never run into a story where the main character is a cancer survivor, and by the end of the book, neither she nor we can really be sure about what Lani was…the author leaves lots of room for the reader to decide what might have become of him.
I think I’d recommend this book to people who might like mysteries…there are a number of puzzling things that happen to Lani and Claire, even though the book takes place over a very short time.
There are, of course, some offensive things in the book…mostly to do with teenagers bullying and mocking each other, and specifically to do with gay-bashing. Not that this is exactly a pro-gay book either…along with most of the things about him, Plum-Ucci leaves Lani’s appearance and behaviour pretty open to interpretation, I’d say.
But…who cares? It was a good book. I’m glad I read it.