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Weetzie Bat – Book Challenge 2K16

Molly Kane, Head of Teen Services and Emerging Technologies

weetziebatTitle & Author : Weetzie Bat – Francesca Lia Block
Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Harper Teen
Book Challenge Category: A book you’ve already read at least once

Description: ” A brief, off-beat tale that has great charm, poignancy, and touches of fantasy . Weetzie, now 23, is a child of Hollywood who hated high school but loves the memories of Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin, plastic palm-tree wallets, and the roller-skating waitresses at Tiny Naylor’s. She wears a bleached-blond flattop and Harlequin sunglasses, covers her ’50s taffeta dresses in glittery poetry, and sews fringe down the sides of her minis in sympathy with the plight of the Indian. Nobody understands her, least of all her divorced bicoastal parents, until she meets Dirk, who takes her dancing at the hot clubs in L.A. in his red ’55 Pontiac. When he tells her he’s gay, they decide to go “duck-hunting” together. He meets his ideal blond surfer, and Weetzie finds her Secret Agent Lover Man. They all move in together, make movies that become underground successes, and have a baby. This recreates the ambiance of Hollywood with no cynicism, from the viewpoint of denizens who treasure its unique qualities. Weetzie and her friends live like the lillies of the field, yet their responsibility to each other and their love for the baby show a sweet grasp of the realities that matter.” 

Review: This book is only 88 pages long. It’s slim and short and vibrant, filled with run-on sentences, entirely too much alliteration, and I love it so. It was originally published in 1989 and my mum gave me a copy after she read it in a “kiddie lit” class at Penn State. (My mother changed careers – from a nurse to an teacher – around this time. I benefited greatly from all of the kids’ literature classes she had to take!) I’m not sure why my mother thought I would like it. It was perhaps a little edgier than the Babysitter’s Club books I’d been reading up to that point. It was (is) also essentially a love letter to Los Angeles, a city Lancaster County grown me had no knowledge and no interest in. But she handed it to me and I devoured it.

I loved the lyrical language. I still didn’t want to go to Los Angeles, but now it was because I was terrified that it wouldn’t live up to Francesca Lia Block’s descriptions. (Years later when I did go, I was taken aback by how accurate the book really is.) More than that, though, I was intrigued by the friendships and relationships in the book. Even though I always had friends, I always longed for a group of friends who were tight-knit and did everything together like Weetzie and her crew.

Weetzie Bat  wasn’t the first book to truly resonate with me, but it was the one that made the deepest cut and the one that made me realize that loving a book is great, but loving an author is better. When I realized that Weetzie Bat was just the first in a series and that she had written many other books, I lost my young mind. Francesca Lia Block continues to write even though those of us who read Weetzie Bat are now grown. One of the greatest days early in my career as a librarian was when I got to order a new Block book to put on the shelf for my students. I can see her shelf from my desk and every time someone pulls down one of her books, I can’t help but smile.

Only five more books until I’ve finished the 2K16 challenge!