August 24, 2006

Questioning Lani Garver

Whatever Happened to Lani Carver? is a book I read awhile back, but have struggled to categorize. It seems to go to great lengths not to be a book about a gay kid in a small town. Instead, it brings up angels and homeless people and transgender, and never truly answers any questions about who Lani was.

Claire spent the final year of junior high with leukemia, and finds that people think cancer is... catching. So when she finally gets a friend, she's loyal. Macy is loud and opinionated and very popular with everyone, even the "fish frat," the boys who work on fishing boats and already seem to big and cool for high school. Lani Garver shows up at Claire's high school, and he/she? is ...strange. Different. And he resists the boxes people put around him. He won't just be 'gay' -- or even 'girl' or 'boy.' Obviously that means he'll be beaten to a pulp, because 'different' doesn't go over so well at Claire's school. But she persists in her friendship with him, mostly because she remembers what it felt like to be the school leper. This decision costs her friendships, and in the end almost costs her life.

It costs Lani's. Maybe.

A peculiar mystery that baffles me because of the incomprehensible actions of the characters. Big on suspense, this novel is an over-the-top story about homophobia in a small town.

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