Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

 

weetziebatblockWeetzie Bat
by Francesca Lia Block

  • VOYA:  3P 2Q J
  • Lexile Level: 960L
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; 10 Anv edition (July 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060736259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060736255

Weetzie Bat is a hip Hollywood party girl with a gay best friend named Dirk.  Together the two explore the colorful club scene and look for love and family in Old Hollywood.  Between hanging out with Dirk’s super cool granny in her Hollywood bungalow and taking care of Slinkster Dog, their shared furry baby, the best friends have many adventures.  At its heart, though, this is Weetzie’s story, and whether she is spending time with her New York dad, Charlie Bat, on his annual trip to LA or decorating Grandma Fifi’s digs with her signature glittery retro style, she is always a character full of spunk.  Among their adventures, Dirk and Weetzie inherit Grandma Fifi’s bungalow after she gives Weetzie a dingy golden lamp that reveals itself as a magic lamp.  In addition to wishing for a home, Weetzie asks for “a Duck for Dirk” and “my secret agent lover man.”  When all three wishes come true in surprising ways, Weetzie, Dirk, and their significant others begin to settle into a creative and happy life making cool retro films and being hip and fabulous until Weetzie begins dreaming of a baby.  Her lover is reluctant to bring a child into the world, but surprises her with a mate for Slinkster Dog.  Though she is pleased with the resulting puppies, Weetzie cannot let go of the idea of having a baby, and when Dirk and his boyfriend offer their services and promise to help her raise their child, Weetzie makes a drastic decision without the love of her life.  My Secret Agent Lover Man is not amused and cannot bear to stay.  Weetzie is crushed but Dirk and Duck take care of her as they wait for the child to be born.  After Cherokee is born, Lover Man returns and they begin raising the child as a group.  Weetzie takes Cherokee to New York to spend time with Charlie Bat and get his screenwriter help in wrapping up a film project.  He reveals that he is dying and Weetzie tries to reunite Charlie and Brandy-Lynn before he is gone.  Along the way, she begins to understand how the two came together and why they could not stay together.  After his death, a mysterious Lanka woman shows up at the bungalow and claims that she has a child by Lover Man.  She asks for money for an abortion, but later she returns and leaves the baby on the doorstep.  Though they struggle with the idea, the group decides to keep the child and Witch Baby and Cherokee grow up together and Weetzie and the others continue working on their arty films.  At one point, Duck breaks down and disappears when a friend becomes sick.  Dirk is despondent, but he finds Duck and they face the threat of aids within the gay community together.   As the novel ends, Weetzie realizes that she may not know what is to come, but she is happy and that is enough.

Legions of teenager girls have fallen in love with Weetzie and her colorful retro world and Francesca Lia Block has an impressive number of titles under her belt.  A critical darling, the novel is full of amusing references to old Hollywood and the free flowing life of California.  The characters are original and quirky, and together create an unconventional yet caring family.  However, Block’s use of language is spotty at best.  Several chapters begin “one day, Weetzie and Dirk…”.  The fantastical touches can be humorous, but they add little to the actual story, and in some ways these touches actually take away from it.   Duck and My Secret Agent Lover Man are interesting characters but it is hard to relate to them since they are literally a wish come true.  More sophisticated readers may be annoyed by Weetzie and Dirk’s unrealistic lives and luck as well as Block’s uninspiring prose.  The overall theme is appealing– party girl learns to accept her life and enjoy happiness in whatever form it takes– but the presentation is utterly forgettable and unforgivably sophomoric.  Personally, I wanted to love this book because it has touched the lives of so many young girls.  The characterizations of gay men and relationships is appealingly positive and Weetzie’s mixed feelings about her parent’s divorce is endearing.  The writing, however, left me absolutely cold.

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