I fell in love with Weetzie Bat during my MA in children’s literature. I had never read anything like it before, and I believe you will be hard-pressed to find lush, magical and gritty contemporary prose fairytales quite like the ones Francesca Lia Block conjures up. Her version of L.A. pays homage to the glittery fantasy of hollywood and the sad, dingy seedy side of broken dreams.
In Pink Smog we meet Weetzie at the moment where she is transitioning from Louise into Weetzie. Her beloved father has left, abandoning Weetzie to look after her broken, alcoholic mother and deal with a trio of nasty mean girls and a possible witch in her apartment complex. Luckily she has Lily and Benny, two unlikely new friends, in addition to Winter, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome teen (all the boys in FLB’s books are pretty-boy handsome) who may or may not be her guardian angel.
Pink Smog is more linear than the other Weetzie books, which may have something to do with the fact that it is aimed at a middle grade (not YA) audience. This being said, the plot takes a backseat to the setting and characters, which is typical of FLB. Her writing is so delicious that this doesn’t bother me, but it may leave some readers wondering what happened. Like all of FLB’s books, Pink Smog has an air of mystery and magical realism to it that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you ever wanted to try magical realism on for size, here is a good place to start.
I am always happy to read a Weetzie book, but if you’re new to her world I’m not sure that I would begin with Pink Smog. As much as I enjoyed it, nothing immerses you in the world of Weetzie as does the first book. This being said I liked going back to her world just as I liked flashing forward to a middle-aged Weetzie in A Necklace of Kisses. The bottom line is that if you have not treated yourself to the world of Weetzie Bat, then you are missing out. Get thee to a library! Or book store! She is an unforgettable character and important part of the history of YA literature.
Pink Smog is available this month from HarperCollins Canada.