cover image Violet & Claire

Violet & Claire

Francesca Lia Block. Joanna Cotler Books, $14.95 (169pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027749-9

Block (the Weetzie Bat novels) sets herself new challenges and meets them with consummate grace in this resonant novel. Violet and Claire, best friends, are polar opposites: Violet is angry and intense, with a fierce ambition to write and direct films; Claire is passive, attempting poetic transcendence of the casual cruelties of everyday life. Each girl gets what she thinks she wants. Violet, still in high school, lands a six-figure film deal, and Claire begins a romance with her poetry teacher. But these fulfilled dreams sour, and Violet and Claire become painfully estranged. In a triumphant finale, they embrace, aware that their relationship restores the balance missing in their separate personalities. The elements of the story--fairies, overnight fame, arts, sex and drugs, glamorous parties and, of course, the heady Los Angeles setting--are classic Block; the combination, however, is fresh and arresting, and her fans will applaud it. The narrative line is more pronounced than in previous works and, in another departure, provides a clear division between the fantastic and the real. The fairies, for example, belong to Claire's fantasy history of a lost race of ""faeries"" (""The patriarchy turned them into little insects,"" she explains to Violet). Cynical Violet and dreamy Claire alternate as narrators, projecting distinct voices that gradually come to resemble each other. Shedding a transformative light onto the often complex, sometimes dark nature of close friendships, Block's writing is as lush and luminous, as hip and wise as ever. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)