Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What Happened to Lani Garver” as Want to Read:
What Happened to Lani Garver
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What Happened to Lani Garver

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,942 Ratings  ·  224 Reviews
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 day
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 1st 2004 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What Happened to Lani Garver, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about What Happened to Lani Garver

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SáenzWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John GreenBoy Meets Boy by David LevithanCity of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Best YA Fiction with GLBTQQI themes / characters
67th out of 1,072 books — 3,095 voters
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyTote Mädchen lügen nicht by Jay AsherLooking for Alaska by John GreenSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Best Teen Books About Real Problems
200th out of 2,249 books — 11,630 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Ashley D--
An "issues" book to the extreme, there are quite a few valuable topics covered in this book. The title is a question that runs through the whole book, and while there is no definitive answer to the question, I couldn't help but read it as another typical Queer Kid Bites the Dust story that helps the main straight character become a Better Person.

What I'm the most angry about with this book, though, isn't really its fault. I went into a kids' bookstore asking for a book with a queer character, an
Bill Littell

Generally, I liked this one but would have to say it took a long time for it to get exciting. I'd say the best things about the book would be Lani's intelligence and insight.

Words of Wisdom:
"If you can understand human behavior, it can't hurt you nearly as much" (47).

"I could have winked or smiled or something just to be a jerk -- but what's the point? People create their own little hells. They don't need my help" (80).

"I would complain to my dad about finding new definitions to 'lonel
Will Byrnes
Oct 20, 2008 Will Byrnes rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 13, 2009 Bonnie rated it really liked it
What Happened to Lani Garver is about our desire to categorize people and our impulse to fear those we cannot define. The story is told from the perspective of Claire McKenzie, a popular cheerleader who lives with her mother on Hackett Island. Claire spent most of her Middle School years battling leukemia. She now battles violent nightmares, a possible eating disorder, and a fear that her leukemia has returned. Though all of these issues provide a backdrop to the story, the primary focus of the ...more
Mrs. Reed
Apr 15, 2010 Mrs. Reed rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Dec 26, 2008 Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* by: Tale_of_lost_ink Toli
I really liked it; I'd never read anything quite like it. It was a very original and thought-provoking story. At first I thought it was kind of dull, but in the middle it started getting pretty intense. Then I found myself getting hooked and didn't finish reading until midnight ... and by then I was practically crying, but ANYWAY. On the surface, the end was sad, but it wasn't as cliché, doom-and-gloom as I expected it to be. It was depressing, but it left that little hint of hope that keeps the ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Leilani rated it it was amazing
What Happened To Lani Garver By Carol Plum-Ucci

This book time the book takes place in is unknown but it is set in recent times, and it is set in the small town of Hackett Island.

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. Instead of enjoying her high schoo
Apr 21, 2009 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club, favorites
In What Happened to Lani Garver Claire is a tall, popular cheerleader whose life seems “perfect” to her friends, but in reality, her life is really messed up. She has just returned to her high school after going through chemotherapy for leukemia and has bloody nightmares. Her parents are divorced and her mother is an alcoholic. She is constantly around the wrong people and has an eating disorder. Then, one day, there is a new kid in her extremely small high school. The kid’s name is Lani Garver; ...more
Rachel Eliason
Jan 09, 2012 Rachel Eliason rated it it was amazing
Shelves: transgender
What happened to Lani Garver is a really good book about a cancer survivor and a really bad book about a gender variant individual. I will give this book the highest praise I possible can, I didn't write yesterday because I was so wrapped up in finishing this book.

First the good part. The main character, Claire missed a year and half of junior high because she was battling Leukemia. She's in remission and back on Hackett Island for high school. She hopes to put the past behind her and just be a
Nov 16, 2011 Ashley rated it really liked it
Honestly, the novel started off slow dealing with typical teen girl drama, but after Claire meets Lani Garver and is introduced to a world bigger than her Hackett Island cliques, the story takes off. The high school is puzzled by Lani’s gender identity, but what’s more puzzling for Claire is whether Lani could really be an angel or not. This novel busts down the doors of so many issues (bullying, sexuality, drinking problems, eating disorders, etc.) that are relevant with today’s teens. Lani’s o ...more
Sep 09, 2011 Ken rated it it was amazing
The book opens by telling you the main character is going to die.

You'd think that would prepare you for it. You'd be wrong.

On my copy, the last two chapters are literally tearstained. I had to stop reading it and put it away because the action became too heartwrenchingly intense. I didn't pick it up and finish it until six months later, and even with that pause, the intensity remained.

"What Happened to Lani Garver" is also notable for its realistic and sympathetic portrayal of queer, physically
Sep 26, 2008 T.O.L.I. rated it it was amazing
Seriously, all I can say about this book is OH......MY...........God! it was insanely amazing and the story behind it was a beautiful thing. It is inspiring and written really greatly. I loved it! everyone must read it!!!!
Shanely GaliciaLuKimHuangWuZhangByunParkOh
First book that actually made me cry to be honest...
Megan Anderson
I really liked this book, though parts of it (basically 26-end) were difficult for me to read (though, the final chapter was better). I'm not sure I actually breathed until I got to the last four or five pages.

The language is beautiful, and it definitely makes you think about what is real and important in well as how you treat and interact with other people. The main character's voice is whiny, but then, it's first person limited, so the writing is definitely in-character. My only majo
Jan 26, 2015 Lindsey rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I've owned it multiple times, often giving the copy to someone to read and simply buying myself a new one. I even accidentally left a copy of it in a hotel in France when I was 14. I want to read it again, soon. I'll have to buy yet another copy because my last one was lost in the hurricane, but I don't mind. I really have enjoyed it each time I've read it anew.

Also, the author grew up in my own hometown.
Aug 26, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
One of the best LGBTQ youth books I've read, aside from RAGE. The story starts off a bit slow but picks up quickly once Lani appears in Clair's life.
clair's this simple girl who recovered from cancer and believed she should always be nice to people no matter what. Her best friend macy is a big time gossiper and everybody believes what ever comes out her mouth. Once lani comes into the picture he immediatley stands out for the simple fact no one can tell if he's a girl or a boy.
Clair and Lani b
Dec 18, 2011 Katie rated it it was amazing
This book was one of the most inspiring I've ever read. Claire and Lani are both searching for acceptance, and they are some of the most entirely human characters I've ever read about. They're not idealized at all, but manage to be completely awe-inspiring anyways. The way Lani deals with the troubles in his life so gracefully, but can't stop fighting back. He's so wise, but he still makes mistakes because he's vulnerable. His view of humanity is just essentially beautiful. And Claire, Claire is ...more
Feb 11, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 3.5 Stars for What Happened to Lani Garver

This is a re-read for me

Thoughts and Plot

Claire Mckenzie is now a popular high school cheerleader who lives with her alcoholic mother on Hackett Island in a small town where everyone pretty much knows everybody and their business. Claire battled leukemia through her middle school years and now lives in fear that it will come back. She has violent nightmares, writes depressing song lyrics and may (or may not) have an eating disorder. Des
Dec 05, 2014 Chloe rated it it was amazing
I believe that there is a certain type of book that ought to be labeled "Difficult but Determined". They are the books that captivate me at the very same time that I am appalled and horrified at them. I cry, I yell, I laugh, I walk around the house in a day dream, and, most importantly, I think. "What Happened to Lani Garver" is one of those books.

I don't usually write reviews about even my favourite books, but this book left me so raw and touched and broken that I couldn't help but write one.
Sep 12, 2014 Katherine rated it really liked it
What Happened to Lani Garver is a wonderful young adult novel that focuses on difficult situations in the main character's life and surroundings, and the questions that come from them. The main character, Claire, meets a strange person named Lani Garver. From the moment Lani arrives in Hackett, a small fishing town outside of Philadelphia, things begin to move. Lani becomes a mirror for Claire, and everyone else Lani meets. But what is Lani? And why do we have this feeling of impending doom for ...more
ACS Librarian
There 19s a powerful buildup of suspense here. The plot skids and shakes and rams into walls, and the bloodier gashes made me recoil.

Plum-Ucci aims to reveal the violent extremes of homophobia and mental breakdown. Claire, the teenage narrator, is primed for trauma, with a history of leukemia and razor-blade nightmares. Her friends accept her, as long as she doesn 19t openly deviate from their small-town norms. Claire 19s divorced mom has a similar sense of self-preservation: she 19s scarily im
Nana Pearson
Aug 30, 2015 Nana Pearson rated it it was amazing
This book is an outstanding coming-of-age novel by Carol Plum-Ucci. This book is about Lani Garver, who makes a mysterious sudden appearance at Hackett Island. No one knows how old Lani is or where Lani came from. What is most disturbing is that no one knows if Lani is a boy or a girl. The main character, Claire McKenzie, befriends Lani and within days of Lani's arrival, Claire begins to question the world around her. Several events that unfold later in the novel, shake up her world-view and Lan ...more
Stephanie A.
Jan 30, 2016 Stephanie A. rated it it was amazing
Before Tumblr was all over the idea of non-binary and transgender identities, neither of which are out of the realm of possibility if you want to read it that way, I gave this book a 5-star rating for how thoroughly it blurred the line between "feminine/gay?" and "angel?" and really made me think about intolerance. To my pleasant surprise, it still takes my breath away 10 years later. This is partly because it's two completely different stories depending on whether you think Lani is simply a hum ...more
Sarah Crawford
Jan 29, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best young adult novels that I have ever read, period.

The central female character is Claire McKenzie who is in remission from leukemia she suffered during junior high school. She befriends a new student named Lani Garver who, at first, the others are unable to determine what gender the person is. Lani exhibits behaviors of both genders at times, and has a past history of having a lot of trouble due to people being hostile to him, assuming that he is gay.

Claire, herself, is no
Sep 11, 2014 Emily rated it it was amazing
I read this book as a young teenager, and it was life-changing in an odd sort of way that I can't quite explain.

I loved it unreservedly when I first read it, and feel somewhat more reservation now as an adult, mostly because (view spoiler)
Apr 05, 2010 Jackie rated it it was amazing
This is such a haunting book. I was to tears when I finished reading it for the first time. Such a powerful book. I really wish there was a sequel or something.

I loved Lani!
Nov 20, 2014 Ashlee rated it it was ok
I really struggled to even try to finish this book. I will admit that I could not finish it. I am almost 100 pages from the end and I cannot bring myself to finish it. I think this book has the potential to be good, I really do. However, the book ruins itself. Claire and her friends GET ON MY NERVES. I guess it is because I am in college not in high school that I find her immature friends annoying. In fact I find Claire kind of annoying because I don't really believe she wants to hang out with t ...more
Aug 03, 2014 Naevia rated it it was amazing
I read this in high school, it was such a powerful book! Or maybe I was just impressionable. Doesn't matter! Literary genius!
Jan 19, 2008 Kim rated it it was amazing
Plum-Ucci is a wonderful novelist period. She happens to write for young adults (and lucky grown-ups).
Probably A Serial Killer
Oct 09, 2014 Probably A Serial Killer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone. Not even joking, this book is sort of perfect.
Recommended to Probably by: Goodreads
Shelves: favorites
I need somebody to read this now so we can talk about it...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The House You Pass on the Way
  • Kicked Out
  • The Year They Burned the Books
  • Gravity
  • The Necessary Hunger
  • Name Me Nobody
  • Talk
  • Eight Seconds
  • Between Mom and Jo
  • Freak Show
  • Alt Ed
  • Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology
  • My Father's Scar
  • Jumpstart the World
  • The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing About Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Question
  • Rosemary and Juliet
  • Hello, Groin
  • Parrotfish
Carol Plum-Ucci is a young adult novelist and essayist. Plum-Ucci’s most famous work to date is The Body of Christopher Creed, for which she won a Michael L. Printz Award in 2002 and was named a Finalist to the Edgar Allan Poe Award. Describing her subjects as «the most common, timeless, and most heart-felt teenagers,» Plum-Ucci is widely recognized for her use of the South Jersey shore to set sce ...more
More about Carol Plum-Ucci...

Share This Book

“If you can understand human behavior, it can’t hurt you nearly as much.” 38 likes
“Complete happiness can look so much like complete terror that its hard to tell them apart.” 38 likes
More quotes…