I welcomed in 2011 by reading the first book of several required for my Young Adult Literature and Resources course, Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. I emailed the instructor to try to get a jumpstart on the semester, so I wouldn’t get to the point I was last year where I was having to get through multiple books in one week. Weetzie Bat, along with Seventeenth Summer (which I just picked up from the library today), are the requirements for Week 1.
I am looking forward to this course’s reading list, as the books seem interesting. Hopefully that will hold true!
I mentioned that I thought the books sounded interesting, but this one was just weird. It was originally published in 1989, and the reviews on the back of it used words like “transcendent”, “shimmering”, “magnificent” and “sparkling”, which makes me wonder wtf the reviewers were thinking. The whole thing was sort of stream-of-consciousness, and started out as realistic fiction before quickly deviating into fantastical. (The main character, Weetzie, is given a magic lamp, out of which comes a genie who grants her three wishes, and that’s just the beginning.)
The characters are strangely named, including Weetzie (her last name is Bat), Dirk, Duck (Dirk’s boyfriend) and My Secret Agent Lover Man (henceforth known as MSALM, because the former is too long to write). The whole thing is just a hodgepodge of weirdness, and while it read incredibly fast (I finished it in less than two hours), it was just STRANGE. Weetzie’s three wishes come true almost immediately: she wants a Duck for Dirk (a “Duck” being a good guy, as far as I can tell), a MSALM for herself, and a “beautiful little house for them to live in”. The house turns out to be the house Dirk and his grandmother were living in, because Fifi, the grandmother (who also gave Weetzie the lamp), dies. Duck, the boyfriend for Dirk, appears almost immediately, and MSALM appears a bit later. They all live together in this house, when suddenly Weetzie decides she wants to have a baby. MSALM doesn’t want a baby, so Weetzie decides to have sex with Dirk and Duck (it’s very non-graphic, almost non-existent), and gets pregnant. When she tells MSALM, he leaves her. He’s gone for a while, when he suddenly reappears and says he was wrong, blahblah, and they get back together. They name the baby Cherokee, and she strangely looks like a mix of all four of the “parents”.
Then a Random Witch shows up, and it turns out that MSALM had a one-night stand with RW, and RW got pregnant. She wants money for an abortion, but actually has the baby instead, and the baby (that they name “Witch Baby”, wtf) is left on their porch in a basket. Witch Baby is kind of a terror, but they love her regardless, as you do, I suppose.
Like I said, the book was just odd.
There were a few lines throughout this book that I thought were really well done, like, “we can’t be anywhere except together,” and “I don’t know about ‘happily ever after’ but I know about happily,” but those were pretty much the extent of what I really liked about the book. My overwhelming feeling when I got finished was just “huh”.
That being said, I can see why the book was considered groundbreaking. This book includes an openly gay couple which probably didn’t happen all that often in books geared toward teens/young adults in 1989 (and doesn’t really happen all that often in books geared toward teens/young adults in 2010, if you think about it, although it’s getting better). But other than that? Huh.