Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block

Title:  Weetzie Bat
Author:  Francesca Lia Block
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Year:  1989
Pages:  109
Genre:  Magical Realism
Themes:  Family, GLBT, AIDS
Age Range:  9th through 12th Grade

Weetzie Bat and her best friend Dirk live in Shangi-L.A., which most of us call Los Angeles.  They like 60s Hollywood glam, and punk rock.  Weetzie is straight, Dirk is gay.  Both are looking for their "duck", or soulmate. After Weetzie gets three wishes from a genie in a bottle,  Dirk find his in a dreamy blonde surfer boy, Weetzie finds her Secret Agent Lover Man.  This odd collection of people live together in a bungalow in LA, creating a blended family like none I've ever seen.  Together they face depression, AIDS, parenting, and an uncertain future.

This is a strange little gem of a book.  There is almost no formal character development, yet I felt as though I knew and understood each of the characters intimately.  Block's sparse, lyrical language paints a picture of a Los Angeles that is at once glamorous and gritty, magical and dirty-in fact, it is the perfect setting for a story with both Old Hollywood and punk rock sensibilities.  Weetzie and her friends make some questionable choices-drinking too much, picking up men at clubs, having a baby while still very young-but you can't help but be moved by their loving, quirky, rather bizarre family.  This book was the first in a series about Weetzie Bat and her family, including Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys and Baby Be-Bop


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