Clare is living a pretty good
life. She's a high school cheerleader, hangs out with the popular
crowd, has a great looking boyfriend. Things couldn't be better.
At least the junior high years are behind her. You see, she was diagnosed
with leukemia when she was in junior high. She suffered through the
chemo and radiation, the hair loss, the total loss of energy. But
she survived and she is now in remission. No one ever talks about
it now. They like to pretend it never happened. Clare's mother
started drinking too much when Clare was sick and hasn't stopped.
Clare's friends certainly never bring it up either. Life is going
great. Until Lani Garver starts school. Clare's friends are
very curious about Lani. You can't tell by looking whether Lani is
a girl or boy. Egged on by friends, Clare gets up the courage to
ask. All Lani says is "not a girl". What starts out as an awkward
meeting turns into a friendship that Clare can't explain. Clare confides
in Lani that she thinks her leukemia is coming back. She tells him
things that she has never told others. Why is he so easy to talk
to? And why do the kids at school take such a dislike to him?
Is it because he questions their reality? As Clare and Lani get closer,
Clare feels her neat little version of reality crumbling. Can someone
as different as Lani survive in a small town where different equals bad?
of floating angels? More importantly, do you believe in them? It was in
Carol Plum-Ucci's book that the topic was first introduced to me. Was Lani
Garver a floating angel? This is one of those questions that just can't
be answered, and is strictly a matter of opinion. He's different, sure.
He didn't fit the profile of a Hackett Islander, he was different. He helped
16 year-old Claire to find her true self, and to never put people in boxes.
When she thought her leukemia might be coming back to haunt her, he helped
her find a free clinic to get tested. When he found out about her eating
problem, he found a therapist for her, who also in turn helped her to realize
that the bloody lyrics she wrote to play on her guitar weren't something
to be ashamed of. Claire's life was once again beginning to pick
up, but simultaneously Lani's started to get worse. We saw him picked on
and kidnapped, and worst of all, we watched his life end.
you are left with: Did his life really end, or did he take his work as
a floating angel elsewhere, to help someone new.