Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
Audiobook Narrator: Alyssa Bresnahan
Publisher: Recorded Books
Copyright Date: 1997
Reading Age: 14-17
Reading Level: Grades 9 and up
Awards: Phoenix Award, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Recommended Book for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Subgenre: Bildungsroman, Magical Realism
Buzzfeed called Weetzie Bat one of the "most Los Angeles books ever," and it is easy to understand why. The story captures LA at its most dreamlike, celebrating the many personalities of the City of Angels. Weetzie encounters challenges, sadness, and strife but stays positive and optimistic throughout. Her love and empathy are the major underpinnings of this tale and win through even as the specter of a new disease attacking gay men begins to rear its ugly head. Readers will care just as deeply for the characters in this book as Weetzie does. Told in a lyrical prose, it will be difficult not to finish this novel in one sitting. Weetzie Bat is the first in a six book series.
Weetzie Bat is another lyrical novel that lends itself to the audiobook format, as Alyssa Bresnahan explores the cadence and rhythm of the writing and capture the dreamy tones of a mythical City of Angels. Reminiscent of the ebbs and flows of Beat poetry, Weetzie's story flows like those pieces—shimmery and glossy on the surface with glimpses of darkness and struggles underneath. She is optimistic to a fault, feeling that everything will work out okay in the end. And Weetzie just might be right. Even though she experiences grief, loss, strife, and challenges, the way she welcomes everything with love and joy in her heart allows her to work at things until they get better. The dark aspects of the book, including the AIDS epidemic and drug use, are discussed in ways that younger readers may not catch but older readers will recognize. This is one of those stories where the message goes over the heads of the reader until they are mature enough to see it. The empathy in the story is a major underpinning of this tale. While the main character may be Weetzie Bat, all of the characters are relatable, and readers will find themselves caring for them just as deeply as Weetzie does. Written in a simple style that will be approachable to uncertain readers, this is a high-low book that can be chosen for older teens who don't see themselves as capable readers. The book also captures the fear that rocked the world when HIV began to impact lives in the 1980s and '90s and illustrates the sinister mystery of its appearance. The love that shines through the story shows that even when there is fear, acceptance and empathy are the right choice.
This coming of age novel follows a young woman named Weetzie Bat. After she finds a genie and makes three wishes, her life changes in remarkable and unforeseen ways.
About the Author
Francesca Lia Block, M.F.A., is the author of more than twenty-five books of fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry, and has written screenplay adaptations of her work. She received the Spectrum Award, the Phoenix Award, the ALA Rainbow Award and the 2005 Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as other citations from the American Library Association and from the New York Times Book Review, School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.
Her work has been translated into Italian, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Portuguese. Francesca has also published stories, poems, essays and interviews in The Los Angeles Times, The L.A. Review of Books, Spin, Nylon, Black Clock, The Fairy Tale Review and Rattle among others. In addition to writing, Francesca is a beloved and devoted teacher. She was named Writer-in-Residence at Pasadena City College in 2014 and in 2018-19 became a Visiting Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Redlands where she was a finalist for Professor of the Year award. Currently she teaches fiction at UCLA Extension, Antioch University, and privately in Los Angeles where she was born and raised. (Author information and image can be found here.)
Weetzie Bat has the cadence of Beat poetry. Talk about that literary movement and how that poetry was read.
Discuss Los Angeles as a setting and how it feels almost mythical.
Challenge issues: LGBTQIA+, HIV/AIDS, polyamory
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Weetzie Bat is a young woman who encounters challenges but never gives up her optimism. Teens will enjoy the poetic cadence of the writing as well as the quirky names of the characters including Witch Baby and Secret Agent Lover Man. Even reluctant readers should enjoy the pace of the story.