cover image How to (Un)Cage a Girl

How to (Un)Cage a Girl

Francesca Lia Block, . . HarperCollins/Cotler, $15.99 (119pp) ISBN 978-0-06-135836-4

In what reads like confessional verse, Block (Weetzie Bat ) explores her trademark themes (like not feeling pretty “in [a] city of movie-star beauties”) and more individual concerns (such as the nameless speaker's father's cancer diagnosis and her divorce). As Block's admirers expect, she expertly blends reality and fantasy: she references L.A. locations and real-life celebrities, and she also sprinkles in mystical creatures, such as a vampire who convinces two eager girls that his life “might look fun, but actually it kind of sucks” and a young woman born with a fish's tail. Mostly, though, these are women's stories: the author recounts the transformation from teen to mother, and shares others' stories, real and imagined. Block names the pressures that girls face growing up and, particularly in a section called “love poems for girls,” imparts advice: “expectations are for what you yourself create.” Fans of Block's work are best positioned to appreciate her credos; they will be awed by Block's consistently fertile imagination and her honesty in illuminating the dark moments of girls' and women's lives. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)