Pink Smog: Becoming Weetzie Bat

Francesca Lia Block. HarperTeen, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-06-156598-4
In this prequel to her genre-shifting 1989 debut Weetzie Bat, Block peels back the glittering surface of that hip teen fairy tale to reveal a heartfelt portrait of the artist as a grieving seventh-grader. After Louise’s father abruptly decamps for New York City, she must cope with her mother’s depression, a clique of mean girls, and the sinister family in Unit 13 of the Starlight Condominiums, where she lives. An attractive older boy—possibly a guardian angel—offers help and solace, as do two new friends from school, who are outcasts as well. As anonymous notes propel Louise on a mystery tour of her beloved hometown, Los Angeles, magic shimmers ever brighter. By the novel’s end Louise leaves her given name behind and begins to grow into Weetzie, the girl who can spin pain into gold by always seeing beauty, “no matter how bad things get.” Newcomers and longtime fans alike will find much to savor in this nuanced meditation on what is lost, and what is gained, in the process of becoming an artist. Ages 14–up. Agent: Lydia Wills LLC. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 01/01/2012
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