Since she's been raised by hippies, it's no surprise that Laurel grew up loving nature and spending time outdoors. After all, she's even named after a tree. Plus, you know, she's actually a plant so nature and the outdoors are her natural habitat. So to Laurel, being around people and stuck indoors all day stinks, which makes her pretty displeased with her experience attending a public high school. As she complains to her mom about the other students:
[…] they run around like wild monkeys. They shriek and laugh and whine at the top of their lungs. And they make out at their lockers. (1.77)
Um, gross? While we're not entirely surprised at this typical teenage behavior, Laurel is. She tends to be shyer and more introverted than a lot of her peers, so she finds spending time around them obnoxious. Eating lunch inside with David's friends for the first time also gets on her nerves. Check it out:
Several of David's friends attempted to draw her into their conversations, but Laurel couldn't concentrate when the temperature in the room seemed to be rising by the minute. […]
She'd chosen a full T-shirt that morning instead of a tank because she'd felt so out of place the day before. But now the neckline seemed to grow even higher until she felt like she was wearing a turtleneck. (2.24-25)
Everyone gets flustered sometimes, but Laurel experiences this particularly badly when she's inside all day and surrounded by people. She's always happier when she can be out in nature, so, for instance, when David takes her on a walk down a path by his house, she notices that they're standing "in a forest with damp, fallen leaves forming a thick carpet under their feet. The dense canopy hushed the sound of cars in the distance, and Laurel looked around appreciatively" (3.73). The fact that she's able to enjoy this sight with David means that she's not totally antisocial, she just gets antsy when she's cooped up.
Laurel's also aware of how she looks in contrast to how most teens look:
Adolescence had been kind to her. Her almost translucent white skin hadn't suffered the effects of acne and her blond hair had never been greasy. She was a small, lithe fifteen-year-old with a perfectly oval face and light green eyes. She'd always been thin, but not too thin, and had even developed some curves in the last few years. (1.68)
She might not have gotten her period, but it looks like Laurel's lucked out in the adolescence department otherwise. No pizza face or stringy hair for this girl. But before you get jealous and write Laurel off as an enviably pristine teen, let's be clear that we're highlighting the ways that Laurel is a little odd and unique because, as we learn in the book, there are reasons for her being different than her peers. Reasons like, say, her actually being a plant and not a human being. So the ways in which she truly feels like she doesn't fit in foreshadow how different she actually is.
In other ways, though, Laurel is your typical teenager. She gets self-conscious when Chelsea grills her about her vegan diet, and she feels weird about dressing differently than most of the kids, who "all wear clunky shoes and tight jeans and like, three shirts all layered on top of each other" (1.71). Many teens are struggling to figure out what makes them unique, what's worth rebelling against, and what's worth hanging on to in their lives, and in this sense, Laurel's enacting a totally ordinary teenage process.
Which means there's a bit of a contrast going on here with Laurel. She's not your typical teenager in a lot of ways, but she's still got some teenage-y-ness going on, especially when she worries about her appearance (like when the "zit" appears on her back) and about what others think of her. However, her special connection with nature, which she explores as she learns more about her faerie heritage, sets her apart from others. Like, way apart.
Laurel is pretty resourceful if you think about it—for example, she finds out she has a flower growing out of her back, and figures out how to disguise it right away. Here's what she does: "She grabbed a long silk scarf off one of the hangers and wrapped it around her waist, securing the petals to her skin […] She picked a lightweight, peasant-style blouse and threw it over the whole thing" (5.28-29). Not bad for an ensemble that's thrown together in a panic, right? Laurel can think on her feet.
There's more to her solution-seeking behavior than clothing choices, though. When it comes to handling things on the fly, Laurel's pretty quick. While freaking out about the blossom, it occurs to her to ask David to look at a sample under his microscope, since maybe this will give he a clue as to what it is. And when David is talking under the trolls' influence, Laurel quickly thinks to slap him in order to jar him enough to shut him up, which totally works.
We also think there's a connection between Laurel's resourcefulness and her artistic creativity. Both require her to think outside the box, and sometimes very quickly. As an example of her creative side, she plays her mom's old guitar, which is pretty cool. She brings it to the family land in Orick and spends some time sitting in the forest and playing by herself. When she does, it seems like she's really in her element:
Laurel began picking out chords from her favorite Sarah McLachlan song. She hummed along quietly as the scent from the flower enveloped her. (8.18)
Laurel sings, too, which is something Tamani brings up when they finally meet. He confesses to falling in love with her while watching her grow up, and says: "'You used to come here and sit by the stream and play your guitar and sing. I would sit up in a tree and just listen to you. It was my favorite thing to do. You sing so beautifully'" (25.78). Even though Tamani's obviously biased, we're guessing Laurel's not a half-bad singer.
It's possible that Laurel's creativity and resourcefulness is a part of her heritage as a Fall faerie. The way Tamani explains it, "'Fall faeries have a magical sense for plants and can use them for the realm's benefit […] They make potions and elixirs to do all sorts of things—like creating a mist to confound intruders or making a toxin to put them to sleep'" (13.121-123). Fall faeries, in other words, are makers. They are fixers and creators, which ties in well with Laurel's ready resourcefulness and creative pursuits.
In short, Laurel is creative, resourceful, and quick on her feet… what's not to like? Maybe she doesn't always think things through fully (like when she and David go to check out Barnes's place and end up getting captured), but at least she's trying to do what she thinks is right.
The fact that Laurel loves to play her mom's guitar shows that her family is important to her, even though we find out from Laurel early on that she's adopted. She tells David about how "Someone put me in a basket on my parents' doorstep" (3.43) when she was almost three years old. She could speak already, but knew only her name, and nothing else. Her parents legally adopted her as soon as they could get through all the paperwork.
As the conversation with David continues, he asks whether she's curious about her biological mom. Laurel says yeah, a little, "But I like my life. I'm not sorry I ended up with my mom and dad" (3.59). And they do, indeed, seem like decently cool parents.
Of course, this is before she finds out that the faeries intentionally placed her with her human parents in order to have her inherit their land. So we understand that her feelings get a little more, er, complicated as the novel progresses.
We don't get any clues about Laurel's faerie parents in this book, but we do know that she feels a sense of obligation to her faerie family in general. That's because they're relying on her to keep the land in Orick in her possession, so that it doesn't fall into the wrong (ahem, troll) hands.
Sure, in theory Laurel could walk away and say, "Stuff it, faeries, I wanna live my own life," but she doesn't. She accepts the responsibility of inheriting the land in order to protect the gateway to Avalon, which shows that she's got a good head on her shoulders and a strong sense of duty. Our Laurel's just not the selfish type.
At the very end of the book, she makes the choice to stay with her human parents, saying:
I have to stay with my parents. They're in more danger than ever. I've been given the responsibility of protecting them […] I love them and won't leave them to be slaughtered by the first troll who comes across their scent. (25.56)
Sounds like her parents raised her right, since she's so loyal to them that she's conflicted about the faerie versus human aspects of her identity; they've taken care of her all these years, and now she's not about to bounce when they're in real danger. And while we at Shmoop may not be renowned for our powers of prophecy, we're feeling pretty confident that Laurel's human family and faerie family will come into conflict in the book's sequels. We've got a feeling there isn't enough of Laurel to go around.
Laurel's human parents have a lot to learn—and to accept—when it comes to the truth about their daughter. At the end of the book, when Laurel's mom is driving her out to the land to see Tamani one last time, Laurel notes that she:
[…] had spent the last three days convincing her parents she was a faerie and most of this morning assuring them that it was in their best interest to accept the faeries' proposition. (25.2)
So not only does Laurel have to fill her parents in on how, oh yeah, she's actually a mythical creature, but they have to be cool with putting the land in a trust in her name. After all, the faeries saved her dad's life and gave them a diamond to cover the medical costs and such. Laurel's parents are getting a crash course in faerie relations, but we've got a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Even if Laurel's human parents and faerie relatives are happy to, essentially, have joint custody of our main girl, we're guessing she's going to experience some push and pull between the two worlds. Which brings us to…
It's no Twilight love triangle, but Laurel is pretty darn conflicted about who she's attracted to and who she should be with in Wings.
When she meets David at school, he quickly becomes one of her closest friends. And then there's a little something else going on between them, though Laurel holds out on admitting that they're actually an item. Part of the reason is that Laurel wants to be fair to David, and she thinks she has too much going on in her life to make an important decision at his expense: "She liked him—a lot—but she wasn't sure if her feelings were romantic or just needy. And until she was sure, she couldn't commit to anything" (10.39). You go, little Miss Emotional Maturity.
After the whole rigmarole with the trolls and almost getting killed and stuff, though, David is still totally into Laurel, and she's into him too. Check out their sparks:
David held her closer against his chest and kissed her again, longer this time. Laurel almost sighed in relief as her arms twined around his waist. His lips were warm, soft, and gentle—just like David. (24.87)
Responsible, reliable, and totally into her? David seems like an ideal match for Laurel. That is, if she decides to keep playing human.
And then there's Tamani, who's pretty much the opposite.
Laurel's feelings about Tamani are different: more dynamic, passionate, and unpredictable (kind of like Tamani himself). The first time they meet, Laurel's totally weirded out by how much he bewitches her: "That sharp sense of wanting someone without even knowing them—she'd never felt that way before. It was exciting and exhilarating but also a little scary" (9.20). Soft and gentle Laurel's feelings are not when it comes to Tam.
The contrast between these two dudes and what they represent to Laurel is striking. Even though David is new in her life, he starts to represent stability, security, and her old life as a human. Being a faerie is new and strange to her—just like Tamani is. So Tamani represents the future Laurel might explore if/when she visits the faerie land of Avalon… but he also represents her very old life, the past and the childhood she gave up in order to come to the human world. If this gets any more complicated, we're going to have to start drawing diagrams.
Laurel's not ready to leave the human world and be with Tamani, but she does realize that they have a special connection. Before leaving Tamani at the end of the book, she learns that they'd been close in the faerie realm before she lost her memories and became human. She kisses him one time:
And for a moment, she did feel like part of him. As if their kiss bridged the gap between two worlds, even if only for that one brief, sparkling moment. (25.96)
Something about her connection with Tamani is magical and makes her feel connected to her faerie heritage, even if she's not ready to commit to him yet (or ever).
Laurel is trying to find her own way among all these conflicted feelings, and she wants to do it on her own terms. She tells Tamani near the end of the book: "'But I told you, this is not about choosing between you and David. I'm not trying to decide who's my one true love. It's not like that'" (25.64). This isn't just about who she makes out with, after all; it's about which world she lives in. And that's a decision that definitely merits taking her time to resolve.