In 1989 Francesca Lia Block made a dazzling entrance into the literary scene with what would become one of the most talked-about books of the decade; Weetzie Bat. This poetic roller coaster swoop has a sleek new design to match its new sister and brother books, Goat Girls and Beautiful Boys. Rediscover the magic of Weetzie Bat, Ms. Block's sophisticated, slinkster-cool love song to L.A., the book that shattered the standard, captivated readers of all generations, and made Francesca Lia Block one of the most heralded authors of the last decade.
This could be a book about cheap cheese and bean burritos, slinkster dogs, lanky lizards and rubber chickens ...Or strawberry sundaes with marshmallow toppings, surfing, stage-diving and sleeping on the beach ...It could even be a book about magic. But what it's definitely about is Weetzie Bat, her best friend Dirk and their search across L.A. for the most dangerous angel of all ...true love.
Francesca Lia Block is the author of more than twenty-five books of fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry. She received the Spectrum Award, the Phoenix Award, the ALA Rainbow Award and the 2005 Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as other citations from the American Library Association and from the New York Times Book Review, School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly. She was named Writer-in-Residence at Pasadena City College in 2014. Her work has been translated into Italian, French, German Japanese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Portuguese. Francesca has also published stories, poems, essays and interviews in The Los Angeles Times, The L.A. Review of Books, Spin, Nylon, Black Clock and Rattle among others. In addition to writing, she teaches creative writing at University of Redlands, UCLA Extension, Antioch University, and privately in Los Angeles where she was born, raised and currently still lives.
it is so awesome being me. every day is a contradiction, every opinion is unpredictable and inconsistent. i surprise myself daily: i love the coen brothers, but i hate the big lebowski. how is this possible?? i hate cutie-pie whimsical movies, but i loved amelie. wuuh?
the excitement of living my life is that i am always surprised by how i will respond; the world is a big exciting oyster of possibility.
this book has everything going against my expected tastes: slick language, "cool" protagonists, l.a. setting, staccato prose...
but against all odds, i am charmed! it is a glossy fairytale; a world without consequences that just shimmers breezily along in this surface-only realm where everything is kind of coasting on a sea of mood stabilizers with no emotional depth.
that doesn't sound good, does it??
i don't know what i like about this. it is showy, it is flashy, it is short and fast. this is like a quickie in a gay bar on ecstasy.
it is like those plastic smiling families from the happy past, but some of the nether parts are repeated.
it is not all happy, but the sad parts, the scary parts, the parts that oprah-books would milk for a couple hundred pages are just... dealt with. rapidly. pregnancy, infidelity, death, sickness; it's the prettiest treatment of these themes i have ever seen.
The disclaimer here is that everyone else I know who read this book liked it, but I felt so strongly about this book after I read it I had to put my two cents in anyway, even knowing that I may be going against the grain here. It's difficult to say what age I would ever consider recommending this book to because the message and subject matter here seems a bit mature for young teens, yet the entire thing feels like it's written at about a fourth grade reading level. The characters exist in a sort of shimmery fantasyfied L.A. that (if you've read up even a little bit on Old Hollywood history) didn't even exist in the days of Marilyn, James Dean, Jayne Mansfield and the other movie icons Weetzie and her friends idolize. There are sporadic tears in the gauze curtain through which we can glimpse the darker and seedier side: there are hints that a friend of a friend found out they had AIDS, someone's close relative dies from a drug overdose. Still, these glimpses end up coming across like the line of fine print on a cigarette package--cautionary bits stamped on out of some sort of afterthought or imposed obligation, without sincerity or compassion, and as such, they are quickly passed over. To be fair though, at least the glossed over Barbie Dream Home fairy tale shimmeriness is consistent. After all, in Weetzie's world, everyone finds their ideal matches, ready-made with the same cutesy nicknames that she and her best friend came up with when they were even younger and sillier, everyone lives together on their own without any trouble or financial worry, and even an impulsive and ill-devised baby-making scheme involving a threesome with a best friend and his significant other can turn out hunky-dory. The babies themselves seem to be regarded as little doll-like beings, and the entire thing is dealt with in such a precious manner readers might find it advisable to keep an insulin shot at the ready. Add to this the fact that everything (dialogue and narrative) is written in an odd stuttery style that I suppose could be found either whimsical or deeply irritating, depending on the sort of person you are. (Example: "Vixanne is evil,' My Secret Agent Lover Man said. 'I've got to give the baby back.' 'If she is evil, we can't do that," Weetzie said, 'We have to take care of the baby.' 'Yeah, we can call her Witch Baby,' Dirk said."' Or, from another section: "I am the genie of the lamp, and I am here to grant you three wishes," the man said.)
Weetzie is quirky without depth. There's no road map here for dealing with any of the problems she does encounter because she never deals with them. She denies them or ignores them until a convenient magical solution manifests itself or else she runs away from them, and the other characters aren't really much more than pretty shiny accessories. Overall the book is definitely unusual and original, but that is really the only thing that can be said for it. I expected to be blown away and it was an utter disappointment.
this book would have changed my life had i been given it when i was stuck in long island and forced to hang around fuckhead fratguys who alternated between blowing bong-hits to bob marley and working out repressed homosexuality by pummelling pale skinny weak kids. perhaps this book would have forced all the self-loathing (due to the conflict between wondering why i wasn’t like said fuckheads and the deep repulsion i felt toward them) to turn outward and i might’ve pulled some kind of columbine deal on some of those assholes. and from the privacy of 'the hole' (i shived some aryan motherfucker for stealing my pencil) i might’ve turned out some great pieces of writing rather than these dumb disposable book reports.
damn you francesca lia block. where were you when i needed you?
(if this book were standard issue to every fifteen year old on the planet i'm pretty sure the world would be a much better place)
really hated this book for the first couple pages, couldn't believe i was supposed to read an entire bookful of this happy hippie treacly bullshit, then i abruptly burst into tears at the end of the first chapter and loved it from there on out. reminds me a little bit of hemingway in the way that complaints about it seem to center around a perceived lack of emotional depth, whereas all i see (after those first few pages) is a constant battle against darkness and pain. it's mystifying. anyway, i thought it was great, and it actually made me wish i had kids so i could give it to them. but hey let's all pray that doesn't happen.
I know of many people who really enjoyed this book a lot, but I personally found it confusing, short-sighted, and almost pointless. It tells the fantastical story of Weetzie Bat and her friends who live happily in a fantasy-land California, seemingly dreamlike state. Everything that occurs is very far-fetched to me, and even if it were a fairy tale, I could not find or come up with a theme for this really ambiguous novella.
The characters are extremely one-dimensional,and all the problems that they are faced with they either ignore or some magical solution appears randomly in front of them. There does not appear to be any character growth or change, and I found the writing mediocre.
Although fantasy certainly has it's place, I would recommend a number of other titles before this one to teens and overall do not find it a worthwhile read. It deals with mature content, probably aimed at older teens, and yet, the writing style makes it seem aimed at 10-year-olds. The lack of development, surface level drama and lack of theme-oriented elements makes this book seem hardly worthwhile. I just did not like it.
Weezie is something of a geration-X Holly Golightly, without the tragedy; she's everything a mixed up, affected, over-the-top poetry-and-creative-writing highschool student from the late 90s who was raised on too much Molly Ringwald and Duckie wanted to be. The story is breezy and fun, with Weezie, Dirk, and Secret Angent Lover Man tripping lightly from one adventure to the next, learning to live, love, and make successful underground movies in a Hollywood that actually has all the glitz and glamour that we naively hope it would.
Zero, zero ZERO stars if I could. Oh, mercy. I only managed to finish reading this because it was short. And with its reputation, I thought it might get less awful at some point.
Spoiler: it never got less awful. And now my face hurts from grimacing this long.
Are these characters supposed to be this unlikeable? I mean, I know they're supposed to be just DARLING levels of rebellious cool. That much is clear. I mean, they wear kimonos and Indian headdresses so obviously they're really unique. And they adore vintage and kitschy decor, so they're obviously imaginative. And they have token exotic brown friends, so they're obviously authentic and real as individuals. (Hm, perhaps the book functions best as a guide to what white people should not do.) Oh, and they're brokenhearted that the shitty fake town they live in is different from the shitty fake town it used to be. So they must be deep.
And I also know they're cool because they're incredibly selfish - often bordering on abusive - with no discernible relationship skills. They treat each other - and the children they create - as objects to be manipulated for their fantasy life. Most loving actions portrayed in the story are along the lines of buying someone a burrito, while the ickier actions taken are the size of . Only when someone is faced with death does it occur to ANYONE INVOLVED that their actions have consequences.
The fairy tale style of writing and the child-like prose could be used to wonderful effect, they really could. I adore magical realism. But when those qualities are a stand-in for characterization, it really just makes for a shallow story about shallow people. And tragedy striking is a great time for tears and real moments where we all realize we won't have each other forever and we need to love fiercely. But if I still don't give a shit about any of you, what difference does it make?
I understand it's a portrayal of gay/bi characters (and AIDS) and blended families in a young adult book. Perhaps that's why it got the reputation it did for inspiring so many weird kids. And I'm thankful for that. I love my fellow weird kids. But it's disturbing to think that these terrible characters could seep into anyone's ideals about relationships. Actually, now I'm wondering how many polyamorous people pattern their relationships after Weetzie Bat, because that would really explain a lot.
I was expecting something amazing. This book didn't just let me down, it actually vaguely disgusted me on many, many levels. Yeah, I get that it is a fairy tale of sorts and so doesn't have any obligation to be realistic. That doesn't excuse badly written characters, forced plot turns and badly written conversations though. I mean, just compare this to anything by Gaiman - Anansi Boys and American Gods are also fairytales happening in modern day USA, but manage not to be completely awful. I understand that some people like how it deals with some heavy themes in a very airy fashion - AIDs, neglect, pregnancy, death and so on...but mostly it just doesn't deal with them. It mentioned them in passing and then quickly buried it all beneath a huge pile of glitter and fake roses.
I think I knew I was going to hate this book when they first introduced the supposedly cool main character with her feather headdress and I started screaming "eeewww cultural appropriation!" in my mind. It really, really doesn't get any better.
I honestly am so glad I did not read this as a teen. I could possibly have liked it and been influenced by it at 13, which might have lowered my IQ significantly. Bleh.
A surreal story. I really enjoyed this. What a pleasant surprise. The themes in the book are very adult - sex, drugs and the story is magical. It reads like poetry and it's not poetry. I have heard a lot about this book and I'm so glad I finally checked it out. Weetzie lives in this fairy tale story with her gay best friend, his lover and her own lover. The words are somehow magic as well. I don't know how the book did what it did and I love it. It is short on details and plot. A lot happens in one chapter and maybe that is why it feels so magical. All I know is I like this book and I will be reading more of Francesca Lia Block!
"You get three wishes," the genie said. "I wish for a Duck for Dirk, and My Secret Agent Lover Man for me, and a beautiful little house for us to live in happiliy ever after." "Your wishes are granted. Mostly," said the genie.
My wishes were not granted, mostly. I was prepared to read a short, but pleasantly shocking, quirky urban young adult fantasy novel of the ageless sort. Something that has earned being referenced in every other modern fairytale review. But I was disappointed by something so decadent and otherwordly silly of novella-sized proportions - which is maybe hip and maybe multi-layered and satirical and whatnot - that I failed to get it.
Please don't misunderstand. I am not complaining about the "plot" or what the story deals with in general. I do appreciate that it celebrates love in countless forms and outlets between friends, gay lovers, couples who have already split up but cannot let go, parent and child, human and pet, love in different modes of bliss and hurt, family as patchwork as it gets, forgiveness and beauty. I draw my hat because drugs, AIDS, the downsides of stardom and other problems occuring in Hollywood and elsewhere are not glossed over, but brazenly interwoven into everyday life.
I felt let down, because "Weetzie Bat" could only be compared to a fairytale in the sense that both dump unbelievable or exciting facts onto the reader using a detached point of view and a really compact, condensed style: The evil frog turned green with envy, followed the princess into her plush chamber and impregnated her on the spot. He left the castle seven nights before his daughter Swampsea was born. "Good riddance," said her mother, now a royal single parent, and employed a gnarly-horned wet-nurse from hell. Oops! Wrong tale! The man's name was Valentine Jah-Love and the woman's name was Ping Chong. [...] "Jah!" cried Valentine, lifting his stormy face up in the greenish electric light. "You'll have to stay here. It will rain for seven days and seven nights." It rained and rained. Everything in "Weetzie Bat" happens immediately and reminded me of the times in my childhood when I tried to made up a story, started by choosing the characters' names with painful elaboration - the wackier, the better -, moved on to outline what was supposed to happen to whom, jotted down some experimental dialogue and then ... left it to its own devices, because playing some other promising game of make-believe had gained my attention.
In addition to the rush and the lack of filling everything is so easy and too superficial. I.e. My Secret Agent Lover Man (that's a character's name) and Weetzie successfully "make" a couple of movies with the help of one or two friends and their house-mates, who function as actors, wardrobe people and whoever is needed, and earn enough money to live, indulge in their favorite sushi and buy a new car although there is no talk about financing or selling the projects or even of anybody watching the outcomes.
Plus my expectation of a magically version of an 80s L.A. had to be satisfied by a voodoo practicing seductress popping in as a supporting character and by a genie suffering from occupational burn-out who transplants Weetzie and Dirk from being teenaged, desillusioned lesson-cutters to living as house-owners on the look-out for the perfect, respective "Duck" (guy).
Please forgive me, enthusiastic Weetzie fans, for missing the spectacular wonder Weetzie's adventures are supposed to present and for being impatient enough to skip all four sequels without dishing out a second chance to Cherokee, Witch Baby and yet unknown Angel Juan to eventually wow me.
I first read this in the late 90s and loved it to pieces; I read it two or three times back then, and wished desperately that I could live in a world as magical and exotic and amazing as the one Block envisioned. Looking back, I completely understand what I saw in it, because there's a lot of good; Weetzie is true to herself, learns to reject destructive relationship and self-sabotaging behaviour, forges a non-traditional family, and does it all with glitter and rose petals and kitschy LA souvenirs. It's a fairy tale of escaping mainstream culture without any negative consequences, because love and funky style win out.
All of that is still true, but rereading it now I'm overcome by the casual, completely unconscious racism that permeates much of the story. Weetzie doesn't just escape conformist culture with glitter and kitsch, she does it through her cultural appropriate of Native American clothing, her admiration of the exoticised, semi-magical Jamaican Valentine and Chinese Ping, and her eventual starring role in her lover's "what these people need is a honky!" movie. It's a textbook example of the way that people of colour are used by dissatisfied white people as a way to escape/subvert from the dominant culture. Yes, there's real appreciation and admiration there, but Weetize & her white friends are the main characters, the ones with the agency, and the people of colour exist to help her be Different and Special. They add magic to her life without having stories of their own.
I seem to recall this gets better in the later books, as Block engages more with the reality of life for non-white Americans, but we shall see.
Plot: When Dirk meets Weetzie in high school, they hit it off immediately; they wear the coolest clothes and they drive around Los Angeles in their "slinkster cool" car. They form an unconventional family when Duck and My Secret Agent Lover Man come into the picture. As a family they create movies and then one day, Weetzie decides to have a baby. She has the baby with Duck and Dirk, which upsets My Secret Agent Lover Man, but he gets over it and brings his child, Witch Baby, in order to live with them as well. It's a happy ending for all the characters involved.
Evaluation: When Dirk's grandma Fifi dies, she leaves Weetzie a "golden thing," which Weetzie rubs and a genie comes out, and he grants her three wishes. It's elements like these that make the novel fantastical and attracts readers. I enjoyed the fact that all of a sudden she had all these wishes granted and Dirk found the love of his life and she found her own love. The book showed an unconventional family that accepts and supports each other. When Duck runs away because he is overwhelmed by his friend's death, Dirk doesn't give up on him, he searches for his partner and brings him back to the family and continues to love him. Similarly, when Secret Agent Lover Man leaves Weetzie because she decided to have a baby with Duck and Dirk, she still welcomes him back into her life and loves him even though he had an affair that produced a child. Perhaps none of these things would happen in real life, but it's kind of cool to see that Block has created this loving utopia within her novel. It's different and sweet and I think that's what drew me into reading the novel even though it was assigned reading. ;-)
Personally, I enjoyed Block's little details in the story because she painted the characters of Weetzie and Dirk so clearly. For example, they love Jayne Mansfield movies, such as The Girl Can't Help It. The outfits that they wear fascinated me when I read the book. Weetzie wears pink Harlequin sunglasses, an old fifties' taffeta dress covered with poetry written in glitter or dresses made from kids' sheets that have Disney characters on them. I think I want to wear those outfits myself! I loved how Block used tackiness and the styles of old Hollywood to create characters that have original styles - I wanted to meet them.
This novel really went into a direction that I didn't expect. When I first started reading it, I didn't think there would be a magic genie involved. The relationships between the characters are kind and loving, and it almost seems as if the reader is only getting Weetzie's perspective on her life. In other words, maybe she is creating this perfect world for herself in order to protect herself from the outside world, which is filled with sadness. The death of Weetzie's father is a pretty devastating moment for Weetzie, but it shows that she probably isn't acknowledging all the problems in her life. It's quite clear that her father is depressed, but Weetzie doesn't really do anything to save him besides trying to convince him to come back to Hollywood, a place that he hated to begin with. It seems that Weetzie lives a kind of life that has fluffiness and sugar coated happiness just like Hollywood movies, whereas her father didn't view Hollywood in the same vein and was probably more in touch with reality.
I really had never read a book like this before, so I don't know if I can compare it to anything. Some novels are just originals and I think that's probably why Weetzie Bat was snapped up and published rather quickly. I also think I'll probably go on to read the other Weetzie Bat books that are out there because this narrative just fascinated me.
This is such a strange book, but after three reads it does mostly hold up. The main weird thing is that it's very hard to place what age group this book was written for. It's barely 100 pages long, and short pages at that, making it the length of an easy reader. But the main characters are young adults dealing with love, rejection, bad hookups, and heartbreak. There are mentions of drug abuse and of the growing severity of the AIDS crisis (the book was published in 1989). I first read it at age 12 or 13 and absolutely fell in love with with its rich dreamy language. It paints a Los Angeles that is built out of glitter, leather, fake feathers, and old Hollywood glamour. It felt like pure magic, and the matter-of-fact inclusion of queer characters and non-normative family structures made a deep impression. I still love all those things, but now I also wince at the frequent cultural stereotypes that pop up. This book contains a white character named Cherokee, a Native character named Coyote, a Jamaican man named Valentine Jah-Love and a Chinese-American woman named Ping Chong. Do we give it a pass because the other lead characters are named Weetzie Bat, Dirk, Duck, and My Secret Agent Lover Man...?
I just re-read this the other night, for the first time since I was a young teen in the early '90s. I remember it as a Book That Made Me Want To Write Books. It expanded my vision of what was possible, bookwise.
It pretty much holds up. If anything, it's even *more* impressive to me, now, that someone was able to publish a lush but spare novel (I think it should be called a novel, even though it must clock in at not much more than 10,000 words) for tweens that deals with topics like gay love, AIDS, childbirth, addiction, nontraditional families, and sexually predatory rock musicians, without ever once creating that self-conscious 'This is an ISSUE that I am talking to you about, Young Adult Reader' feeling that can bedevil books for that age group.
The first sentence is an exemplary first sentence, simple, full of momentum, and the book is just relentlessly fun and lovely from there on out. The few little moments of awkwardness don't grate, but seem stylistically necessary. It is still a book that inspires me as a writer and a reader.
Only just discovered this 1989 novel, which appeared to have been a sensation and seeded a series.
This is a sweet, dream-like, fantasy novella about teenagers creating a world—appropriately enough, in Los Angeles (there is a chapter called "Shangri-L.A."). Hollywood is also a portal for myth-making, fantasy creation and alternate realities.
The language here is understated and crisp, and the mood, as claimed, is "transcendent."
Alooooors, comment dire. Je pense que je suis totalement passée à côté de ce roman. J’ai lu les 200 premières pages, c’était étrange, décalé et je ne comprenais pas où j’allais. Puis j’ai lu en diagonale. Au final, c’était sans doute original, avec des moments de poésie mais ce n’est pas pour moi...
To be perfectly honest in my rating of this book, I had to give it one star, because I genuinely did not like it. This is not because it's a bad book - in fact, it may very well be a spectacular book - for someone else. It was not my cup of tea.
I like to have a sense of what time a story is set in, how much time has passed. In the first chapter, Weetzie is implied to be in high school and then suddenly she and her friend Dirk have inherited a house from Grandma Fifi. It was wildly disorienting.
I like to really delve into the characters and what happens and why and why it's important. These characters did not feel familiar to me by the end, like I could know them in real life. This is partly because of the odd names, like My Secret Agent Lover Man, and partly because nothing is dealt with in any depth. Events happen, and the most time that is spent on them is when Weetzie is mourning her father and Duck is scared for his sick friend and runs away. The rest are quickly glossed over like a brief glimpse as you're passing by a store window. You might see something shiny you want to go back and look at, but then you find the store is closed anyway.
In short, I did not "get" this book. It was not written in a style that is comfortable for me, either to read or fully understand. At first I thought it was simply because everything was so rushed, but as the narrative went on, with random events glossed over (such as a genie showing up once and then never appearing again or even being mentioned), I discovered this was simply not something I was going to be able to fully appreciate and enjoy. However, I did read it, so I thought I would put it on here with an explanation for why I had to give it such a low rating.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
"If you're not a teenage girl, you may be unfamiliar with Francesca Lia Block's works. She's the Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Young Adult fiction, Judy Blume gone punk and New Age, the patron saint of goth gurls into both Nine Inch Nails and Shakespeare.[...] Imagine Ronald Firbank as a Valley girl with a heliotrope Mohawk. That's why there are many of us who are neither teenagers nor girls who find her fiction enchanting." 
2.5 out of 5 Weeetzie Bat is definitely unusual and original, like a shimmering dream. I would imagine that's what the world looks like when you are on drugs. The novel also touches upon some tough subjects, such as infidelity, death, drugs, homosexuality, abortion and AIDS. However, it desperately lacks depth: the characters are one-dimensional and the problems are only briefly mentioned and then magically fixed or not dealt with at all. But that didn't bother me that much (it kind of felt appropriate for the dream world). What really bothered me though is Block's mindless appropriation of Native culture. Ignorant, insensitive and completely unnecessary.
As a person who believes that lying to children and leaving them unprepared for a complex world is cruel and pointless, I find a certain delight in the Weetzie Bat books. Of course, they are also one-dimensional and ridiculous without being truly creative, so they fail to get my Children's Lit prize.
This is my favorite young adult novel of all time. It is short, highly poetic, and very unusual for a YA novel. The main character, Weetzie, is free-spirited and flamboyantly creative. She and her homosexual best friend, Dirk, share a great sense of style and terrible luck with dating. When Dirk's grandma Fifi gives Weetzie a magic lamp, Weetzie's three wishes come true: boyfriends for Dirk and herself and a beautiful house for the four of them to live in happily ever after. The characters don't have typical young adult concerns: they don't go to school, they don't watch TV or play video games. They're into old movies, vintage clothes, and classic cars. They assume the responsibility of raising two babies. The book is both serious and irreverent, realistic and fantastical, and it explores the question what does "happily every after" mean. If you're not able to suspend reality, this book may not be for you. The book sort of defies genre, but I'd compare it loosely to the magical realism of Like Water for Chocolate. Or it may be considered metafiction, deviating from any established genre.
This book started off well enough - a little weird and quite dysfunctional, and boys being called 'ducks'. But then came the wishes...
In my opinion, this book was just...crazy. Some pretty crazy shit went down in this. I honestly can't explain it any better than that. It was a short read, and kind of a whirlwind of events. Characters aren't exactly complex, nor did they seem developed. All in all, not a good read, and wouldn't recommend it.
Charlie Bat Weetzie Bat Cherokee Lily (Witch Baby) Brandy-Lynn My Secret Agent Lover Man Dirk Duck Jerry Slinkster Dog Go-Go Girl Pee Wee Wee Wee Teenie Wee Tiki Tee Tee Pee Valentine Jah-Love Ping Chong Raphael Chong Jah-Love and just for good measure Iggy Pop
All these crazy cool character names...makes Scoobs sound soo...
2.5 stars. I don't even know how to review this odd YA novel about Weezie Bat and her guy, and her best friend Dirk and his guy, living together in a cottage in LA. It had elements of urban fantasy and magical realism and the repetitively simple sentence structure drove me crazy, yet I read the whole thing.
Read for the first installment of YA Book Club! Looks like there are some pretty divisive ratings in the community for this one, too. I think it boils down to: if I'd come to this when I was younger, I might have liked it more.
It's a dreamlike foray through Los Angeles, with young and glitzy characters, that touches on some serious subjects: there are steady committed gay relationships, mixed children, children born out of wedlock, unconventional family dynamics, infidelity, drug use & suicide, HIV/AIDS... For being published in 1989, these topics must have been groundbreaking.
The whole thing reads a bit like being in a fever dream, and there's also a streak of some surprising magical realism/urban fantasy that I really wasn't expecting. But unfortunately, the prose is in this flat, middle grade-ish, fairy talesque voice that really doesn't do anything for me, and the characters are little more than caricatures.
2 stars from me personally, but an extra star added for the perspective mentioned in this reader Q&A, which is an important point; that these subjects & themes hadn't become mainstream at all yet, and so I can only imagine the high impact for a youth in finally reading something that went outside the normal bounds, that showed something vastly different.
I first read this as a child. It left an impression on me that I never forgot. It was my first representation of a functional non-traditional family.
As an adult I picked up on the drug, HIV/Aids, and early pop culture references that I didn't fully understand as a child. As a result I found it more enjoyable to read as an adult!
Francesca Lia Block writes in a very unique way that demands a colourful vivid imagination, and steps outside the usual confines of young adult novels found in 1989. I loved the queer themes and non-traditional families aspect of this book, and felt it was well done!
My sister gave me her copy of this book as I prepared my move to Los Angeles. In its simplest for it is a fairy tale. Ms. Block coated the Los Angeles of the 80's and 90's in a thick coat of glitter and filled it with characters that seem to float on each page. The names alone give the idea of how twee this book can get. Our heroine's name is Weetzie and she is every woman: artist, designer, waitress, punk, mother. Her counterbalance boyfriend is My Secret Agent Lover Man who dresses in black and sinks into pools of despair. Children arrive, Cherokee Bat and Witch Baby. At times the plot sinks back to earth, like when Weetzie leaves her glitter-filled snow globe to visit her father in New York. Still, landing is very different than bursting, and this bubbly remains intact through to the end where Weetzie is satisfied with a life that ends "Happily".