Saturday, April 16, 2011

One of My Favorites: Weetzie Bat

I first heard about Weetzie Bat in junior high school, from a review I read in Sassy magazine. I don’t remember what the review said, but I remember thinking “That’s my kind of book.” Unfortunately, our local book store did not have it in stock and the woman working behind the counter had never heard of it. “Maybe it’s out of print,” she said.

Fast forward to Sophomore year of high school, when the book had become a living legend to me: the book that got away, the book that would have been my favorite if only I could find it. I was describing it to a girl who I had recently become friends with, who was a year older and wore glitter on her face and organized a special Fairy Day on a Tuesday in March when she and I and another girl came to school dressed like fairies because it made us happy. When she heard the word Weetzie Bat, she said “I have that book. You can borrow it.” It was one of the happiest reading moments of my life. And then she told me that there were three other books in the series. And one prequel. And that the author, Francesca Lia Block, had written other books as well. I felt like one person did not deserve so much reading happiness.

She delivered a stack of books to me the next day, and I picked Weetzie Bat up off the top of the pile, holding it reverently, as if it were a holy item, savoring the pink sunglasses on the cover. I started reading in Spanish class, hiding the book under my desk, forcing myself to look up every once in a while to fool the teacher into thinking I was paying attention. And I really had to force myself, because this was the best book I ever read. If there had been an attic at my school, I would have stolen the key and holed up there with a blanket, reading the book all day long, a la Bastian in The Neverending Story.

I had never read a book like this, one that I felt must have been written specifically with me in mind. Francesca Lia Block opens her book with words that cut directly to any high schooler’s heart: “The reason Weetzie Bat hated high school was because no one understood.”

As a New York child, I had heard nothing but bad things about LA, but Weetzie Bat describes a magical city full of glitter and fantasy, where a girl can find a genie’s lamp and wish a better life filled with love for herself and her friends.

Weetzie Bat asks what happens after “happily ever after,” and answers that “happily” is what happens. It is a book that acknowledges that there are bad things in the world but that we can still choose to be the good things in the world. And, as a high school student, when everything in the world seemed pretty bad, that was what I so desperately needed to believe.


  1. I'm pretty sure the copy I have on my shelf right now was yours, purchased from your branch library.