Friday, March 25, 2011

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
ISBN: 9780060736255
HarperTeen, 2004
136 p.

Plot Summary: Weetzie and Dirk are punk kids in high school. They strike up a friendship and Dirk reveals that he is gay. The two of them go to punk shows, eat hot dogs, and go boy hunting, or as they call it, duck hunting. Weetzie lives with her grandma Fifi, a very hip old lady who raised Weetzie. In the dream-like setting (Shangri-L. A.) a genie grants Weetzie three wishes. She wishes for a duck (or boy) for Dirk, a secret agent lover man for herself, and a fairy tale house for them all to live in. Weetzie gets her fairy tale house, but only because her grandmother dies and leaves it to her. Dirk meets a duck who happens to be named Duck and Weetzie meets her secret agent lover man. They all live in a house together, find out what love means and the intricacies of having children.

Critical Analysis: The biggest strength of Weetzie Bat is its uniqueness. It has a fairy tale quality to it and reads unlike any other young adult book I have come across. Many of Block's works are controversial and nontraditional and this one is no exception. She represents unconventional families and shows that they can be just as happy if not happier than traditional atomic families.

Adding to the unconventional characters and situations, the setting and prose of Weetzie Bat furthers its uniqueness. Block paints an interesting and dynamic picture of Los Angeles, one that feels dream-like and whimsical. Much like Block's other works, it reads like poetry; the prose is lyrical and Block makes use of many interesting metaphors.

My criticism of Weetzie Bat can be interpreted both as good and bad. The story is not very plot-driven, so if one is not prepared for that, it can be a frustrating read. It reminded me quite a bit of one of my favorite authors Haruki Murakami, who writes about real life situations with dream-like states and occurrences. A reluctant reader or a young adult who is just starting out reading would most likely have trouble appreciating this book. On the other hand, it is unique and edgy, so perhaps that could make up for its lack of a strong story.

Reader’s Annotation: After Weetzie meets a genie and makes three wishes, she finds that there are some obstacles between having true love and a fairy tale house.

Author Information: Block, a Los Angeles native, is known for her magical-realism tales and numerous award-winning young adult novels.

Genre: fantasy, fairy tale, young adult for the ladies

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalking Ideas: How does this book the challenge the convention of a modern family?

If Weetzie had thought more about it more, would she have made different wishes? Why or why not?

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 15-18

Challenge Issues: nontraditional sexuality and families, extramarital sex, homosexuality

Challenge Defense ideas: Become familiar with the book, keeping the challenge issues in mind. Refer to the library's collection development policy here. If possible, find other opinions from reviews, recommendations, or others who have read the book.

Why I included this title: This book doesn’t follow the standard novel format and it reads more like poetry, so it is good for variety. Weetzie Bat is a good example of different writing style and good storytelling. It is a good representation of a nontraditional family, and I think it is important to be inclusive in young adult literature.

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