Genre: Young Adult
Year: 2002

This is a fantastic book for young adults – and for adults too if they’d take the time. I think that’s what we lack, or fail to make enough of for books.

This novel takes place in a small town, and deals with the life of Claire Mckenzie. Claire is recovering from an illness that cost her a year at school, which has put a kink in her high school development – at least in her mind. What happens next is that Lani Garver arrives, and no one, not even Claire, can figure out if Lani is a guy or a girl. At least at first. As the book continues, Claire begins asking herself if Lani is in fact an angel.

This novel deals with some chilling behaviour stemming from homophobia. Violence shatters Claire’s already fragile world and she learns who her real friends are. It was a tough read, but it is one of the few books in a long time to leave me breathless. The reader can really identify with Claire, who feels like an outsider in her high school – which many high school age students are well familiar with. Not only does she feel outside of the social circles at school, she has this strange relationship with her mother that forces Claire to be the adult. Her friendship with Lani, who recognizes and validates these feelings within her is a real gem. He supports her in a way that she needs, and she grows as a result of it – but none of it seems hokey, which is terribly refreshing.

I think this genre has really taken off and grown since I was young enough to be a regular devourer of it, and this novel is a prime example. I’m adding this one to my must read list.