Weetzie Bat

cover images for Weetzie BatBlock, Francesca Lia. (1989) Weetzie Bat. New York, NY: HarperCollins Children’s Books.

Plot Summary:

Weetzie Bat is looking for love, friendship, and a place where she can be herself.  Luckily for her, Grandma Fifi gives her a magic lamp to make all her dreams come true – but wishes don’t always turn out in quite the way we expect them to.  From surviving high school to finding and losing love to becoming a mother of a child as unusual as herself, Weetzie Bat tells the story of a  young woman with a free spirit who creates a home that gives her just what she needs.

Critical Evaluation:

Groundbreaking when it was published, Weetzie Bat is not nearly as needed as it once was, but it is also not quite so dated as to be irrelevant.  It’s no longer unusual for characters to have close friends who are gay, and our current vice President does not wag his finger at fictional single mothers, but neither are these choices fully validated by mainstream culture. And, of course, there will always be kind, responsible young adults who nevertheless don’t quite fit the mold of what society expects.  Many teens will still find its within the pages a place that they, like Weetize Bat, can be themselves and make mistakes without being considered immoral.  The style is unusual but appropriate for the topic and characters; the words and story flit along from thought to thought like a butterfly – a sort of abbreviated third person stream of consciousness – which can come across either very fresh and satisfying or shallow and confusing, depending on the reader.

Reader’s Annotation:

Weetzie Bat is looking for love, friendship, and a place where she can be herself.  Luckily for her, Grandma Fifi gives her a magic lamp to make all her dreams come true – but wishes don’t always turn out in quite the way we expect them to.

Author Information:

Block is not quite as internet famous as John Green, Maureen Johnson, or Cassie Clare but she is very much present and accessible to her readers (unsurprisingly given the style and topics of the books she writes).

http://www.francescaliablock.com/

http://loveinthetimeofglobalwarming.blogspot.com/

http://www.myspace.com/francescalia

http://www.facebook.com/francescalia

@francescablock

Genre:

Classics

Booktalking Ideas:

I’d focus on how much Weetzie Bat does not feel like she belongs, as this is something that many teens can relate to, and try to use some of the language from the book since it is so unusual and potentially polarizing.  As much as I did not connect with this book, I think it’s an important one to booktalk.  As the multiple covers above suggest, using merely the book jacket to sell this title is problematic because what is considered edgy and fun in terms of visual style changes so quickly.

Reading Level/Target Age:

6th grade/15-19

(while the vocabulary is very low, creating lots of complaints about the reading level on Goodreads and the like, the style of writing would actually be difficult for anyone under 12 to follow)

Possible Controversy:

Dan Quayle may no longer be around to take notice of Weetzie Bat’s life choices, but plenty of other people are.  This slim novella validates many of the life choices that more conservative parents dislike and fear; the best defense is one that points to the title’s longstanding place in young adult canon and the difference between choosing for their child and choosing for all children.

Reasons for Choosing This Title:

I was left with mixed feelings of Block’s writing style after reading Beautiful Boys a couple of years ago and have been curious if I might like other titles any better.  I don’t really, but I think I understand better why these books are so well loved by many.

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