Thursday, June 2, 2011

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Weetzie Bat

Every year when I pick up this book, summer reading officially begins.

   When I was in high school, my friend, Kayla, lent me a copy of Francesca Lia Block's 1989 YA novel, Weetzie Bat.  I had never heard of the title or author before, but I thought I would at least give it a try (after all, it's barely over 100 pages).  I absolutely fell in love with Weetzie and her magical life in L.A.  The story begins with Weetzie in high school, and she doesn't exactly fit in. As the daughter of an early Hollywood filmmaker, Weetzie longs for the glitz and glamor of L.A. in the 1940s and 1950s, and according to Weetzie, her peers live such a fast-paced life that they fail to notice the mystery and intrigue of the city in which they live.

   Weetzie may not fit in, but she doesn't really care either. She spends most of her time watching old films, making clothes, reading, and hanging out at the beach.  But when Weetzie meets Dirk, everything changes.  They spend all of their time together - shopping, eating, dancing in L.A. clubs, and Dirk even shares Weetzie's fondness for old Hollywood B movies.

   One night, Dirk tells Weetzie that he is gay, and so they set off to find boyfriends together (which they refer to as "duck hunting").  Through the aid of three wishes granted to them by a magic genie (who seamlessly fits into the scenery of Weetzie's life), Dirk finds his "Duck," and Weetzie finds "My Secret Agent Lover Man."  Here the story continues, revolving around the dynamics of relationships and the compromises we make in order to keep the fairy-tale love we find.  While Weetzie Bat is a love story overall, Francesca Lia Block gives sparkle and depth to the characters through their surreal landscape set against the backdrop of deserts, palm trees and beaches.  Even though the book is over 20 years old now, the characters are absolutely timeless and will stay relevant as long as people are searching for love and happiness.

   Weetzie Bat can be read in about an hour, and every year I read it at the beginning of summer to kick off my summer reading endeavors.  For me, coming back to this book is a nostalgic comfort, which is why Miss Weetzie and her gang will always hold a special place on my bookshelf.

PS: If you're interested, Weetzie Bat is the first in Francesca Lia Block's 5 part Dangerous Angels series, which include Weetzie Bat, Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, and Baby Be-Bop.  The series is now published in this compilation: Dangerous Angels: The weetzie Bat Books (Paperback)