Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What Happened to Lani Garver, by Carol Plum-Ucci

When the majorly androgynous Lani shows up in the Jersey Shore island of Hackett, his looks raise a lot of suspicion. It is only a matter of time before the rumors and accusations start to surface. But Claire doesn't believe any of it and, as she expresses doubt, the hostility she encounters from the people she grew up around leaves her wondering why all of the fuss is happening and leads her to question events from her past. Far too quickly, things come to a deadly head.

This is an ugly story with a nasty edge. It is hard to not come to the conclusion that the author hates small towns with her demonization of the people of Hackett. The characters are overwhelming weak or repulsive and the story shies away from any moments of redemption. There are some nice observations about group think and denial, but they are drowned in an unrelenting mean streak. The subplot about angels becomes rather meaningless in the end, and is largely used as an excuse to temper the horrific ending with fuzziness.

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