Author: Carol Plum-Ucci
Publisher: Harcourt Books
Genre: Contemporary YA
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? Popular Claire McKenzie isn't up to tormenting Lani with the rest of the high school elite. Instead, she decides to befriend the intriguing outcast. But within days of Lani's arrival, tragedy strikes, and Claire is left questioning herself, her friendships, and, most interesting of all, the possibility that angels may exist on earth.
Another peculiar book picked out for me by my professor. I am seriously hoping my pop culture class is better next semester(and it damn well should be...two of the books on the reading list are Night Circus and Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children). I am sick of all this depressing, angsty,bull-crap in my Young Adult Literature class. I mean, I know that teens are all meat sacks filled with hormones that are screwing them up mentally, while their bodies are screwing them up physically, and everyone else is screwing them over in every other way possible...but come on. Throw in a vampire book or two...that's what teens are reading these days... Not that this wasn't a great, meaningful, thought-provoking piece of bull-crap...but still...there's only so much sadness, death, and discrimination I can take before I want to curl up with a Stephanie Perkins book or some chick-lit romance novel and chase away the tears and sorrow for a bit...know what I mean??? Regardless, this was probably one of my favorite books that I've read for this class. Once again it dives into the issues surrounding Homosexuality/androgyny...I think I've read more LGBT books in this semester than I ever have in my life...but it's definitely broadened my horizons.
I thought this book dealt with the gay issue in a REALLY realistic way. For one, it takes place in a small town. I'm not saying that all small town's are racist, but from my own personal experiences, they are much more likely to hold a less than favorable impression of other lifestyles and races than either big cities or suburbs. My best friend dated a black guy over the summer between her junior and senior year of high school, when she went back to school and her classmates found out that she let a black guy sleep with her, no one would talk to her for weeks. So, putting my intense rage that things like this still happen, you can see that small towns tend to not be very accepting. Enter Lani Garver. He doesn't try to hide what he is, and he deliberately leaves doubts in everyone's minds as to what sex and sexual orientation he is. That is very dangerous, especially when one of the most popular guys in town is a closet homosexual with violent tendencies.
The main characters were both really interesting and strong. Claire has a crap ton of problems. She had cancer when she was in middle school and she;s terrified of it coming out of remission. She's also obsessed with being normal, and normal at her school is being a cheerleader. She's been starving herself in order to feel normal, to feel in control of at least one thing about her body. It is really amazing to see her grow from this broken little girl into someone who is strong and knows who she is. She makes some odd decisions that I don't agree with, but at the same time she stays in character with her personality and I really like that about her. Lani himself is mysterious, captivating, and totally befuddling. You honestly can't tell if he's a guy or a girl...he says he's not a girl...but he giggles...and when you add in the thought that he might just be an angel...well...it definitely makes that plot a very interesting one. There are some very intense and confusing sections that you really don't know whats wrong with him. I actually thought he might have some kind of mental illness at one point, but that doesn't seem to be the case. He is a really likable character and you feel really badly when he gets mistreated. He tries so hard to be unobtrusive and nice to everyone, yet he gets the worst treatment I've ever seen...I was really offended by it. If he was my friend in high school I literally would have beat the shit out of the kids who tormented him.
This book isn't paranormal exactly. The only think that even hints at being supernatural is the idea of angels living among us. You don't know for certain if they exist or if Lani is one, but there are a lot of coincidences and happenings that make you wonder. Lani certainly presents a strong case for being an angel. There are situations that just can't be human, and there is the whole issue of a picture of him appearing as an angel in a book that was written 500ish years ago. It isn't quite paranormal and it definitely isn't religious. The story just is what it is. I really enjoyed myself as I was reading. I found myself caught up in both the plot and the characters. The only thing that I didn't like was that you know the ending from the very first page. It made me anxious the whole time because I was getting to know and love a character that is for all intents and purposes dead. It really upset me and almost prevented me from connecting with the MC's. It's a good thing they were so powerful and awesome and I connected to them anyways.
I give this book a 4 out of 5 Keys. I am actually very tempted to give it 5 keys. I really want to, but something is holding me back. I really don't even think of this book as an educational tool even though it definitely is one. Lani Garver deals with cancer, cliques, homosexuality, finding yourself, divorce, and so much more. It is an amazing book for teens who are going through a hard time with anything in their lives or even someone who is just empathetic. Everything from the plot to the characters to the setting was really cool and well defined. There is a ton of angst and difficulty in this book...but then again, would it be a good teen book without all of that? lol Thanks for checking in my lovelies! If you're a blogger make sure to check out the Science Fiction Challenge for 2012 (it's over on my side bar).