Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
HarperCollins, New York, and 1989
Other Titles in the Weetzie Bat series: Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, Baby Be-Bop, Necklace of Kisses, Pink Smog (Prequel)
Plot Summary: Weetzie Bat hates high school because no one gets her. She is the product of Hollywood romance between a screenwriter and a starlet and her fashion sense is a mix of punk rock girl and a hippie chick. She cares more about the glamourous past Hollywood, think Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin. Eventually she meets Dirk, wearer of mohawks and black leather jackets, and they form a fast friendship, but nothing more because he is gay. One day Fifi, Dirk’s grandmother, gives Weetzie a magical golden lamp. When she is cleaning it at home out comes a genie to grant her Fifi’s last wish. After wishing for things outside of his league she lands on something her and Dirk have been searching for, the perfect men for them, Duck and My Secret Agent Lover Man. Happiness prevails for a while, but soon Dirk and Weetzie learn that even true love can fall apart.
Critical Evaluation: Francesca Lia Block’s attention to detail is what brings Weetzie Bat to life. She lovingly creates Weetzie’s and Dirk’s unique aesthetic of a girl both modern and classic. She drops of pop references to craft Weetzie’s reverence for Hollywood and all that it has to offer a person through lyrical prose. Weetzie seems incapable of believing the cynicism that most readers tie to those who go to Los Angeles. It is enduring and fits the character of Weetzie who believes in love and the responsibility the four has to each other. However it is almost unbelievable how easily Weetzie handles My Secret Lover Man’s abandonment and return with a baby he fathered with another woman given he left because he had not wanted to bring a child into the world. One thing that could bother a reader is how easily Weetzie blows off the idea that the Lanka, Vizanne Wigg, could make My Secret Lover Man sick by using magic when it was magic that created him for her.
Reader’s Annotation: Weetzie and Dirk have never been lucky in love until Weetzie’s wish is granted for their one true loves to come into their lives. But is love enough to keep them together?
Author Biography: Author information retrieved from Francesca Lia Block’s website and Goodreads. http://www.francescaliablock.com/about and https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9072.Francesca_Lia_Block
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 fiction workshops at UCLA Extension, Antioch University, and privately in Los Angeles where she was born, raised and currently still lives.
Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales. She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go Go Boots and a beagle mix named Thumper.
She left only to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She has often professed her love of Los Angeles, calling it a “Jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city,” which she has nicknamed in her books “Shangri-LA.
Genre: Magical Realism
Curriculum Ties: N/A
Book Talking Ideas: What would you ask a genie for is you only had one wish?
Reading Level/ Interest Age: 10th-12th grade
Challenge Issues: Homosexuality, Sex, Drinking, Drugs
- Handout of the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and Right to Read
- Know your library’s collection development policy and have a copy of it on hand. Being able to show how this book fits the necessary requirements for purchase will give you a leg to stand on.
- Have both positive and negative reviews from sources such as SLJ, VOYA, Booklist, Kirkus Review, Common Sense Media, Publishers Weekly, Hornbook, and Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.
- Be familiar with the material. If you have not read the book mention this in your conversation and ask for time to review it and invite the patron back for a more in-depth conversation once you have been able to look it over thoroughly.
- Be prepared to cite any awards the book has won.
- Have a rationale prepared on why the book enhances your library’s collection and be able to offer alternative titles on the same subject that might be less controversial.
- Stay calm while talking with the patient and practice active listening skills. The patron might calm down if they are allowed to air their grievance.
- Have a copy of the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form handy as a last resort and be able to explain the process to the patron.
Why I picked this book: Ironically I had never read Fracesa Lia Block when growing up, but I was a librarian when the resurgent interest in Weetzie Bat happened in 2010 prompting a compilation of the novels to be reprinted. This book is definitely not going to be for everyone with its unique styling and a family that steps well outside the realm of traditional. It is however a quick read and has surprising depth to it about what really matters in life. It is going to appeal to those who feel like they are on the fringe or desire something that critics praise as a literary masterpiece.