Book Review – Weetzie Bat

Weetzie Bat (Weetzie Bat, #1)Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Zero, zero ZERO stars if I could. Oh, mercy. I only managed to finish reading this because it was short. And with its reputation, I thought it might get less awful at some point.

Spoiler: it never got less awful. And now my face hurts from grimacing this long.

Are these characters supposed to be this unlikeable? I mean, I know they’re supposed to be just DARLING levels of rebellious cool. That much is clear. I mean, they wear kimonos and Indian headdresses so obviously they’re really unique. And they adore vintage and kitschy decor, so they’re obviously imaginative. And they have token exotic brown friends, so they’re obviously authentic and real as individuals. (Hm, perhaps the book functions best as a guide to what white people should not do.) Oh, and they’re brokenhearted that the shitty fake town they live in is different from the shitty fake town it used to be. So they must be deep.

And I also know they’re cool because they’re incredibly selfish – often bordering on abusive – with no discernible relationship skills. They treat each other – and the children they create – as objects to be manipulated for their fantasy life. Most loving actions portrayed in the story are along the lines of buying someone a burrito, while the ickier actions taken are the size of (SPOILER) secretly getting yourself pregnant by multiple best friends because your partner has made it clear they don’t want kids (/SPOILER). Only when someone is faced with death does it occur to ANYONE INVOLVED that their actions have consequences.

The fairy tale style of writing and the child-like prose could be used to wonderful effect, they really could. I adore magical realism. But when those qualities are a stand-in for characterization, it really just makes for a shallow story about shallow people. And tragedy striking is a great time for tears and real moments where we all realize we won’t have each other forever and we need to love fiercely. But if I still don’t give a shit about any of you, what difference does it make?

I understand it’s a portrayal of gay/bi characters (and AIDS) and blended families in a young adult book. Perhaps that’s why it got the reputation it did for inspiring so many weird kids. And I’m thankful for that. I love my fellow weird kids. But it’s disturbing to think that these terrible characters could seep into anyone’s ideals about relationships. Actually, now I’m wondering how many polyamorous people pattern their relationships after Weetzie Bat, because that would really explain a lot.

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Published in: on February 7, 2014 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

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