Little Known YA Wonders # 2: What Happened to Lani Garver??

Reading Song of the Day: “What Ever Happened” by The Strokes

A while back, Pam did a post about not believing hype surrounding YA books and that got us thinking about lesser known/praised YA books. We wanted to do our part and highlight some of the fabulous young adult books that we don’t often hear about.

The first part of this series was dedicated to Blake Nelson’s Paranoid Park. Now, we’re gonna tell you about a writer even more obscure, who definitely should be getting more praise.

I was looking for demented young adult books this past summer. My thesis for my MFA program is about feeling empathy for murderous characters (at least enough empathy that you want to continue on with the book) . A poetry professor in the program knew this and recommended that I read a few books by her friend, Carol Plum-Ucci. I am sooooo happy that I listened to her. I read What Happened to Lani Garver and am dying to spread the word about this AWESOME book!
Plum-Ucci is a brilliant writer. She knows how to intersperse vivid detail about the setting of Hackett Island and the people who inhabit it. More importantly, she has the teenage voice and vernacular down! The main character, Claire, is in remission from leukemia. She is elated when the most popular girls in school befriend her, and she starts to date a guy who is part of Hackett Island’s elite pack of fishermen sons. Things are great, until Lani Garver comes to town. The major question people ask right away…is it a boy or a girl?

This novel explores small towns and how they deal with homosexual issues. Claire takes us on journey of friendship and love when Lani embraces her and makes her face her demons. Although the novel seems dark from the general synopsis, Lani brings a light with him/her to Hackett Island and this light will save Claire, her family, and her friends, in more ways than one.

Plum-Ucci won a Micheal L. Printz award & was a finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe for her novel The Body of Christopher Creed (which is waiting for me on my e-reader). She is famous for including her roots in her stories. She grew up in Jersey and loves to use islands and the mainland of New Jersey as her stories’ backdrop. To find out more about Carol Plum-Ucci visit her website and become her fan on Goodreads.

Does this book sound like something you’d want to read? What kind of YA Wonders would you like to see highlighted on our blog?

BTW- Don’t forget about our Sweet On You contest! You have until Sunday 2/13/11 5 PM EST to enter πŸ™‚


9 thoughts on “Little Known YA Wonders # 2: What Happened to Lani Garver??

  1. Okay- just ordered it! Great recommendation.Your MFA thesis is fascinating. I watched Treasure Planet with my kids this week, which is a re-telling of Treasure Island. I was struck by Long John Silver. He really walks the line of evil and sympathetic. I think primarily because we see him through Jim's eyes. Very cool idea. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love you doing this! I think there are so many AMAZING YA books out there that don't get near the hype that some others get. Not to say that the others that do get hype aren't also amazing, but there's so much hype around so few that I love it when I get recommendations for the quietly fabulous reads!

  3. I hope that all of you guys really do give this book a read. It is soooo good :)KO and Abby thanks for the shout out for my thesis. It has been interesting reading different books that fit.Jamie and Windy–me and Pam love highlighting authors/books that the Interwebz doesn't always praise. We're so glad you're liking this idea!Racquel, she is a pretty dark writer– which you know, I looooooove :)Thanks for commenting, peeps πŸ™‚

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