Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review of Francesca Lia Block's "PINK SMOG: BECOMING WEETZIE BAT"

Jacket Copy:

The girl in the mirror wasn’t who I wanted to be, and her life wasn’t the one I wanted to have.

Despite how much Louise insists, no one will call her Weetzie. It’s her dad’s nickname for her, but it won’t stay put. Neither will her dad. Charlie left Louise and her mom and he took everything with him: her family, her home—and her understanding of who she’s meant to be.

But Los Angeles is a city full of strange angels, and Louise embarks on a journey to sift through the smog of her heartbreak, to grow her own wings.

My Review: 5 of 5 Stars

Reading “Pink Smog” was like coming home. I didn’t even know how much I’d missed Weetize until she came back. In this much-anticipated prequel to “Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books,” an adolescent Weetzie Bat confronts the fairy tale that so many of us learn as children: that love, when it is real, stays with us forever.

But how can this be? Weetzie’s father has just left. Does this mean his love wasn’t real? Does it mean he never cared for her in the first place? These are the questions Weetzie must face as she navigates a world of strange angels and sinister phantoms, new friends and spiteful enemies. Her mother is little help, devastated from the loss of her husband, and school provides no solace, but Weetzie is fierce and resilient, and in spite of often feeling lost, she remains determined to find herself.

I loved this book so much. Block’s characters are nothing if not survivors, and Weetzie is no exception. I felt for her as she struggled to find her place in the world, rooted for her as she fought to love herself even when those she loved couldn’t stay by her side. I especially loved her relationship with Winter, that strange and elusive neighbor that might’ve been angel, or maybe just a boy, who managed to help Weetzie remain on the right path without making decisions for her. He was just the right kind of friend, and I found myself yearning for his presence just as Weetzie did, hoping he would visit her one more time, tell her a story, sit by her side.

Another thing I loved about this story—the thing that drew me into Block’s novels so many years ago—was the feeling of being fully immersed in the character’s world. We cannot only see it—we can taste it in the food Weetize eats, smell it in the belladonna and jacaranda that paint her world, and feel it as she travels through the streets of Los Angeles on her adventure. Time and time again Block delivers a feeling of lushness, of completeness that keeps me coming back. Here especially, it is both enticing and intoxicating, in this beautiful story of the transformative power of love specifically when it’s ephemeral. 

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