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 🙂

Little Known YA Wonders: Paranoid Park

Reading Song of the Day: “Runaway” Kanye West featuring Pusha T (The Clipse)
Pam did a recent post about not believing hype surrounding YA books and that got us thinking about lesser known/praised YA books. So, we wanted to do our part and highlight some of the fabulous young adult books that we don’t often hear about.
This week I am going to introduce you to Blake Nelson and his extraordinary novel, Paranoid Park.

You may remember that I chose this as my fave book of the month one time for YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday. I gave a quick synopsis of the book during the above mentioned post but I didn’t get to love on it as much as I wanted to. Now that I have your attention my love fest will begin!

Paranoid Park starts off from a young male’s POV. The male (who is an avid skateboarder) writes in a journal/diary format with the date placed before each section (in the end we find out there’s a reason for this format). He lets the reader know that something awful has happened right away and then proceeds to recount the event and the days after. I wish I could give you spoilers– but you need to read this yourself. Basically, a tragedy occurs and the young male struggles with whether to tell what has happened or keep it all inside. And of course this tragedy is just a notch on his belt of teenaged troubles. He has his fellow skateboard loving friends to answer to as well as a girlfriend who feels that he isn’t being “boyfriend-y” enough. And to top it all off the girl who he grew up with is starting to become more interesting.

Blake Nelson’s (he has a goodreads account people!) writing is so engaging and authentic. The reader really gets inside of the head of the main character. I loved it so much that I quickly purchased two more of his novels Rock Star Superstar and The New Rules of High School, and I plan to get more- including an ARC for his newest novel- Recovery Road written in a girl’s POV.

Visit these sites to get more info on Blake Nelson and Paranoid Park (as well as his other books):

http://blakenelsonteennovelist.blogspot.com/
http://www.blakenelsonbooks.com/

BTW…Paranoid Park was also made into a movie directed by Gus Van Sant- I’ve yet to see it. Off to add it to my Netflix Queue. What do you think about our new series? Do you have any YA Wonders of your own??