Francesca Lia Block,
Weetzie Bat
(HarperTrophy, 1989)

I just got my library card for the local public library last week, and the first thing I did was head over to the young-adult section to discover what kind of precious literary gems were waiting for me. The minute I saw this book, I snatched it up. For years, I've been hearing wonderful things about Francesca Lia Block, but somehow, I've never bought one of her novels. After reading Weetzie Bat, Block's first novel (and now a cult classic), I can tell you one thing -- I won't pass up another novel by her!

With Weetzie Bat, Block introduces us to the glittery world of Los Angeles and its pretty punk queen, Weetzie Bat. With Slinkster Dog and her best friend Dirk, Weetzie cruises the streets of L.A. in a '55 Pontiac named Jerry, living life in the moment and looking for "My-Secret-Agent-Lover-Man."

Block's style of writing and the short length of the novel make it difficult to tell you any more without revealing major plot points, thus spoiling the book. Weetzie Bat reads like a series of connected short stories, almost like snapshots. For such a short novel, though, it covers quite a long period of time, chronicling several years of Weetzie's life.

Block's descriptions, as well as the utterly creative details about Weetzie and her friends, give the novel a surreal, magical air. It's as though Weetzie lives the glamorous, carefree life that I always dreamed of, with sequin-covered ballgowns, Indian headdresses, fringed pink moccasins and platinum buzz-cut hair (well, maybe not the hair). Under Block's imaginative pen, L.A. comes across as a glittering fairyland of tall, fizzy fruit-colored drinks and star-studded streets; a place where anything can -- and does -- happen.

Yet the eccentricity of Weetzie's appearance and lifestyle doesn't detract from the very real, very ordinary -- very serious -- issues that Weetzie must face. Despite the fairy-tale trappings of her life and surroundings, she still must adjust to the changes brought by love, death, sickness, wealth and heartache. It's Weetzie's attitude, ultimately -- a charming combination of youthful innocence and faith together with wise, street-girl know-how -- that makes Weetzie Bat a novel I'll come back to again.

[ by Audrey M. Clark ]

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