Cover image for What happened to Lani Garver
What happened to Lani Garver
Plum-Ucci, Carol, 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt, 2002.
Physical Description:
xiii, 307 pages ; 22 cm
Sixteen-year-old Claire is unable to face her fears about a recurrence of her leukemia, her eating disorder, her need to fit in with the popular crowd on Hackett Island, and her mother's alcoholism until the enigmatic Lani Garver helps her get control of her life at the risk of his own.
Reading Level:
720 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.1 15.0 63653.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.1 22 Quiz: 31818 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The close-knit residents of Hackett Island have never seen anyone quite like Lani Garver.Everything about this new kid is a mystery: Where does Lani come from? How old is Lani? And most disturbing of all, is Lani a boy or a girl?Claire McKenzie isn't up to tormenting Lani with the rest of the high school elite.Instead, she befriends the intriguing outcast.But within days of Lani's arrival, tragedy strikes and Claire must deal with shattered friendships and personal demons--and the possibility that angels may exist on earth.

Author Notes

CAROL PLUM-UCCI is the author of the acclaimed Body of Christopher Creed, which was named a Michael L. Printz Honor Book and was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. She lives in southern New Jersey.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8^-12. Plum-Ucci follows her debut novel, The Body of Christopher Creed, a 2000 Printz Honor Book, with another offering about an enigmatic high-schooler who engenders the wrath of his fellow students--but this one might be an angel. Popular 16-year-old Claire can't immediately tell whether Lani Garver is a boy or a girl. Lani turns out to be a guy, and most people think he's gay. His friendship empowers Claire, who has her own problems: a possible cancer relapse, an eating disorder, and an alcoholic mother. Lani's wisdom and kindness make Claire wonder if he's one of those floating angels she's heard about, but members of the macho set consider how far they can push him. They do drown him, but is he really dead? A misplaced opening chapter gives away the ending, and the sometimes-stereotypical characters laugh incessantly; they giggle, crack up, and snort, usually stopping the narrative flow. Plum-Ucci has the core of a good story here. Lani's androgyny and his angelic possibilities are intriguingly played out, but readers must wade through a lot of extraneous scenes and situations to get the good stuff. For larger collections. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

When a new student shows up, no one can tell if Lani is male or female. And then the question arises about whether Lani is human at all, or rather a "floating angel." According to PW, "the plotting exerts a sure grip." Ages 14-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Claire McKenzie, 16, is a cheerleader, musician, and leukemia survivor. She's haunted by dreams, day and night, that her cancer is back. She secretly writes music with lyrics inspired by dark visions of girls who cut themselves with razors and watch themselves bleed. Her friend Macy is controlling, but she helps Claire feel "normal." Lani Garver enters the picture as a new student at their high school. With his porcelain skin, high cheekbones, longish bob, and seductive walk, it is hard to be sure if he's a guy or a girl. Claire's friends decide that he is gay. He is intelligent and worldly wise and is the one person to whom Claire can talk about her darkest dreams and fears. He seems incapable of not speaking the truth even when his life depends on it. Plum-Ucci also introduces magical elements into the story through Lani's philosophical reflections on Andovenes' Angels, and Claire's growing speculation that her new friend may indeed be a floating angel. She discovers who she is, in the face of unbelievably strong peer pressure, and the determination to decide what is real and what is not. Prejudice, homophobia, friendship, tolerance, individuality, and the possibility that something spiritually bigger than all of us rules this universe are wonderfully woven into this powerfully told story. Outstanding writing, strong characterization, and riveting plot development make this title rise above many recent coming-of-age stories.-Lynn Bryant, Great Bridge Middle School, Chesapeake, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



How can some people's lives look so good when they're so foul underneath? That's the question I ask when I leaf through this photo album Macy gave me for my sixteenth birthday. I got it at my surprise party in October of sophomore year, three weeks to the day before Lani Garver showed up on Hackett.It's full of pictures of me and Macy and our other friends, and we've got some wild and happy parade of the teeth going on. And it's not like we were faking happiness for pictures. That's what terrifies me most. If anyone had asked, my friends and I would have said in a heartbeat, "We rule the cule," and would have believed ourselves.Macy scrawled titles by each picture in her pretty handwriting that slants backwards. The one most likely to rip our sides was "Uh-Oh, The Umbrella Ride," because of the disgusting story behind it, but like all "true brew stories," you find a place for it in your heart.The summer after freshman year, Macy's big sister, Mary Beth, decided it was time to introduce us to Oleander's whiskey, better known by Hackett's fishermen as Old Sweat Sock. She felt we were getting too cocky about our alcohol imbibement tales. Mary Beth was eighteen but had a fake ID. She bought a good-sized bottle of Old Sweat Sock at the Rod 'N' Reel. The six of us passed this bottle around in her car as she gunned it down Mariner Road to Fisherman's Wharf for some general goofing around.Myra Whitehall, who sat in the passenger seat, announced that she suddenly wasn't feeling so great. Mary Beth didn't want to slow down, because this Jeep full of Hackett's finest studs was bumper smooching her Mustang, and she didn't want them to see hurl flying out of her passenger window. She kept saying, "Deal with it, Myra!"Myra couldn't help rolling down the window, and to our disgust from the backseat, the ocean breeze was blowing in-way hard. Macy rooted through Mary Beth's stuff and came up with an umbrella. She snapped it open and shoved it up in front of the four of us in back. When Myra's stomach said, "No more," we screamed some combo victory chant/barnyard noises, completely protected from impending doom. The Jeep passed us with all-too-embarrassing curses and loud requests for car wash reimbursement. Geneva Graham snapped this picture on the wharf right after we got there.I was smiling so completely. Except for Myra-who had just been ruined socially for at least a week-we all were.Right next to that photo there's "Lesbian Hayride," which happened around Halloween of freshman year. I don't even remember how we lucked out so well, but Macy and I ended up in a hay wagon with about a dozen guys from the fish frat-that's the sons of Hackett's commercial fishermen, who are sometimes lifeguards and usually very hunky. We were trying not to act stupid, but also to act like we could care less about these breathtaking studs. As Mary Beth had lectured us, the only way to catch a guy in the fish frat is to pretend you don't care.Macy and I were standin Excerpted from What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.