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What Happened to Lani Garver
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What Happened to Lani Garver

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,374 ratings  ·  257 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)
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4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,374 ratings  ·  257 reviews

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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 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 10, 2009 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
Mar 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 21, 2008 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...
Paul Grose
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was not what I expected and surprisingly good. Playing on the perceptions of the characters and the reader the author leaves clues in the narrative to just who Lani Garver may really be. But at the same time uses the narrative to cast doubt on the readers own theories by offering alternative evidence that takes the reader over a constantly changing and well thought through story. Well written and using accessible concepts and language this is a really thoughtful and well told story. A reall ...more
Apr 08, 2012 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
Rachel Eliason
Jan 09, 2012 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
Apr 21, 2009 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
Nov 16, 2011 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 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
Jan 26, 2015 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.
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
This was a pretty powerful book. It was raw and emotional.

This book was violent and dealt with some pretty heavy topics like childhood cancer, dysfunctional families, and bullying.

I loved the fact that Lani was non-binary with an undisclosed sexuality. Were they an angel or simply human? That is all up to you, the reader, to decide.
Dec 29, 2013 rated it liked it
The publication date here speaks volumes. What Happened to Lani Garver was first published in 2002—far enough back that the idea of people being gender-non-conforming really wasn't on most people's radar; far enough back that this would have felt considerably more boundary-pushing then.

And there's a lot going on here. In addition to questions about Lani's gender/presentation/identity, Claire—the narrator—has a constant concern that her cancer might be coming back, she has her own identity to fig
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
Aug 26, 2012 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 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teens in search of edgy fiction
When new kid Lani Garver comes to rural Hackett Island, no one knows what to think of him (her?). Is Lani a boy or a girl. Is Lani homosexual? Not being able to put him(?) into a neat little box is something that many of Hackett Island's residents find threatening.

Claire, who is in remission after a struggle with cancer, has finally been included in a popular group of friends, but she never really feels like she belongs in the "in-crowd." When Lani comes to town, they become close friends. With
Dec 18, 2011 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
Probably A Serial Killer
Oct 05, 2014 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...
time ferrell
Aug 03, 2014 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 rated it it was amazing
Plum-Ucci is a wonderful novelist period. She happens to write for young adults (and lucky grown-ups).
Oct 06, 2009 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!
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Much more than a teen issues book

So, a teenage girl named Claire who is in remission from leukemia meets a mysterious androgynous individual named Lani Garver. Her new acquaintance helps her get a fresh outlook on the world and people around her and deal with her myriad issues, then promptly dies in a tragic accident after which her life Will Never Be the Same Again™. Even better, you learn all of this in the very first chapter, so um.. should you even read on?

It turns out the answer is yes. It'
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I cannot better the review below which I found on Google. This book is stunning.

What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci
"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
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have read many coming of age books. Some are clearly set on a fantasy world, while others deal with more mundane background. This book in particular deals with situations teens deal with in an everyday basis, but add a supernatural twist that keeps you guessing.

Besides the mastery with that supernatural ingredient is managed, I respect the author for addressing topics that I do not see often in teens books; as the importance of therapy and parental abuse that is not explicit. Also, most books
Dec 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2017
I soldiered through this book because I wanted to know if the title was a question or a statement. Turns out, for me, it was both.
The story was brutal, in a once-removed way. The characters were stereotypes, without depth, nuance or development. The writing was mundane.
John Green did a much more gripping job with teen-age cancer in "The Fault in our Stars".
Amanda King
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
There was a lot to like about this book. Lani is an angel. The book is also super old fashioned. It reminded me of reading teen magazines in the late nineties. It’s also definitely an “issues” book, and I don’t love how Lani is a vehicle for the main character realizing herself. But, it wasn’t bad, either.
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very relatable at the time I read it years ago. I feel I picked it up from the library at the right time. It has a very sad tone while at the same time very inspirational even though it ends in tragedy. The characters are so real. I kept reading hoping for more background and details. I wish the mystery came to light in the end about Lani, I was heartbroken by the ending.
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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
“If you can understand human behavior, it can’t hurt you nearly as much.” 37 likes
“Complete happiness can look so much like complete terror that its hard to tell them apart.” 37 likes
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