“Weetzie and My Secret Agent Lover Man and Dirk and Duck and Cherokee and Witch Baby huddled on the pink bed and cried. Grief is not something you know if you grow up wearing feathers with a Charlie Chaplin boyfriend, a love-child papoose, a witch baby, a Dirk and a Duck, a Slinskter Dog, and a movie to dance in.”
Weetzie Bat is a sparkly, quirky, delight-of-a-character. She wears improbable combinations of old prom dresses, feathered headdresses, and sugary make-up, and spends all her time appreciating her world, Shangri-L.A. (It’s sort of like the 80’s club scene with a little 50’s Hollywood influence). She and Dirk, her gay best friend, spend their days eating Oki-dogs, the “wildest, cheapest cheese and bean and hotdog and pastrami burritos”, cruising the beautiful city in his vintage Pontiac, looking at the ocean, and recharging at Dirk’s grandma’s colorful house of love.
When a genie appears and grants Weetzie three wishes, she wishes for loves for her and Dirk, a house for them to live in together, and a happily ever after. This is the fantastic story of the wishes coming true! (But I value you and your skepticism, friends, so please don’t think that “happily ever after” is presented here as “there-is-no-suffering”. I don’t buy that, and neither would you. That said, it’s still a happy book). Also in the book, there is a baby, and then a Witch Baby, a death, some panicking, and a triumph. I like how it’s not too easy to predict the flow of the story, but that it doesn’t seem strained, either. Nice!
Do you remember Girl Goddess #9? Yes, the really good collection of short stories I reviewed not too long ago-the one that made me want to read everything else the author wrote? Well, this is the book that started Francesca Lia Block’s storytelling career, and it’s really lovely. In the tradition of Stargirl and Sorta Like A Rock Star, Weetzie Bat shimmers with individuality and sincerity and I know you are going to love her!
This is a very short book, but full of heavy topics (AIDS, suicide, drinking) as well as fun things like magic (really-there’s a genie!), love, old movies, palm trees, and hot dogs! ALA picked it right up and awarded it the Quick Pick and the Best Book honors, so you can’t really go wrong there. Better still, if you love it, there are more: Goat Girls and Beautiful Boys, so you can look them up right after you finish!
Author’s website: http://www.francescaliablock.com/
Block, Francesca Lia. Weetzie Bat. New York: HarperCollins, 1989. 109 pp. Ages 14 and up.