Cover image for Pink Smog
Title:
Pink Smog

Becoming Weetzie Bat
Author:
Block, Francesca Lia
Subject:
Young Adult Fiction
Description:
Pink Smog, the long-awaited prequel to Francesca Lia Block's groundbreaking novel Weetzie Bat, was praised as "an intoxicating mix of mystery, fantasy, and romance" by ALA Booklist in a starred review. Weetzie Bat is one of the seminal young adult novels of the '90s and continues to be an iconic treasure for teens everywhere. Now Pink Smog reintroduces a whole new generation to the eponymous Weetzie Bat--before she was Weetzie. Against the backdrop of a Los Angeles teeming with magical realism, Louise Bat struggles to find a way to deal with life after her father's unceremonious departure.Longtime fans and newfound readers alike will fall in love with Francesca Lia Block's beautifully crafted and brutally honest world. Maggie Stiefvater, New York Times bestselling author of The Raven Boys, proclaimed "Pink Smog sparkles and obscures; it's a glorious mirage, like the city it pays homage to."
Publisher:
HarperCollins

HarperTeen
Date:
2012/01/24
Digital Format:
Adobe EPUB

HTML

Kindle
Language:
English

Summary

Summary

Pink Smog, the long-awaited prequel to Francesca Lia Block's groundbreaking novel Weetzie Bat, was praised as "an intoxicating mix of mystery, fantasy, and romance" by ALA Booklist in a starred review. Weetzie Bat is one of the seminal young adult novels of the '90s and continues to be an iconic treasure for teens everywhere. Now Pink Smog reintroduces a whole new generation to the eponymous Weetzie Bat--before she was Weetzie. Against the backdrop of a Los Angeles teeming with magical realism, Louise Bat struggles to find a way to deal with life after her father's unceremonious departure.

Longtime fans and newfound readers alike will fall in love with Francesca Lia Block's beautifully crafted and brutally honest world. Maggie Stiefvater, New York Times bestselling author of The Raven Boys, proclaimed "Pink Smog sparkles and obscures; it's a glorious mirage, like the city it pays homage to."


Author Notes

Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles, California on December 3, 1962. She graduated from the University of California Berkeley and wrote her first book, Weetzie Bat, while a student there. It was published in 1989. Her other young adult works include Baby Be-Bop, Violet and Claire, How to (Un)cage a Girl, and The Waters and the Wild. She is also the author of the Weetzie Bat series. She has won several awards including the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Library Association in 2005 and the Phoenix Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 6

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9-Back in 1989, readers fell in love with a whimsical teen named Weetzie. But in the eponymous seminal young adult novel (Harper Collins), Weetzie was glamorous, open-minded, artistic, and whimsical. In Pink Smog, Block introduces readers to a 13-year-old Weetzie, back when her mom was still calling her Louise. When her dad leaves for New York, the young protagonist decides to start living differently. No small feat when you're living in L.A. with an alcoholic mother. She befriends two outcasts, crushes on a mysterious guy who seems to know a lot about her absent father, and suspects a creepy neighbor is doing some serious damage to her life through voodoo. The story has an ethereal feel to it, with the flavor of Weetzie's world taking precedence over the plotline. In the early '90s, Weetzie was Teen Lit's alternative princess, and Pink Smog aims to introduce a new generation to her fantastical world. It remains to be seen whether today's teens will be as enchanted with it.-Emily Chornomaz, Camden County Library System, NJ (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

Weetzie's pal Dirk got a prequel (Baby Be-Bop, rev. 3/96), so why not Weetzie herself? Pink Smog introduces thirteen-year-old Louise Bat, lonely and depressed when her father leaves L.A. for New York. Fans already know this backstory, so unlike Baby Be-Bop, which told how young Dirk came to terms with being gay, there's not much revelation here. We see Weetzie make two friends in seventh grade, outsiders like herself; in the end, both leave town, but by then Weetzie has decided that "the worse things get, the more you have to make yourself see the magic in order to survive." While the story sets up Weetzie to become the skinny girl with glittery punk charm we all know and love, Block's current prose style is so far from that of 1989's Weetzie Bat that it's hard to make the jump -- much of Weetzie's allure came from the narrative's edgy quirk; the straightforward first-person voice in Pink Smog seems drab in comparison. Gone, too, is the magic -- no genie in the lamp here; instead, the answer to who's sending Weetzie mysterious notes is disappointingly prosaic, and though Block teases readers with a handsome older boy who's possibly a guardian angel, reality eventually crushes that fantasy. The lackluster prose and some odd discrepancies (has Slinkster Dog undergone a sex change?) will leave hardcore Weetzie fans scratching their bleach-blonde flat-tops. jennifer m. brabander (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

Weetzie Bat (1989) at least succeed as a standalone novel? It's 1975, and 13-year-old Louise Bat is mourning the death of her parents' marriage. In a first-person voice that breaks any possibility of the magical realism that made the original Dangerous Angels series so powerful, Weetzie explores the scariness of her apartment complex. At school, she forms an outcasts club with anorexic Lily and (requisite for Block) gay best friend Bobby, having friends can protect her only so much from bathroom graffiti and gum in her hair. Worse, the mean girls of junior high have nothing on the scary witchlike inhabitants of unit 13: purple-eyed Hypatia Wiggins and her nasty, Jayne Mansfieldloving daughter Annabelle (any possible connection to Weetzie Bat's purple-eyed, Jayne Mansfieldwannabe witch, Vixanne Wigg, is left undeveloped). But perhaps Weetzie has a guardian angel at both home and school: Winter, Annabelle's brother. Is it Winter who's leaving her the notes that show her L.A. at its most sparkly, mysterious and flavorful? Inexplicably, Weetzie's story concludes by cutting off any possibility of magic in this realism. A dreamlike tale of bullying and coping that owes slightly too much to nostalgia to work. (Fiction. 12-15)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The beloved star of Block's Weetzie Bat (1989) is back in this charming prequel that finds her at age 13 in the seventh grade, which is like the bad kind of Wonderland. Her beloved dad, Charlie Bat, has decamped for New York after one fight too many with her mother, former starlet Brandy Lyn. Devastated, the woman attempts suicide only to be rescued by a mysterious young man who will loom large in Weetzie's life. In the meantime, our girl begins receiving mysterious messages that may change her life for good or for ill. Weetzie may be younger (and called by her real name, Louise!), but her magical milieu of Los Angeles remains the same: a city where stars leave their handprints in theater courtyards and sunsets are like pink smog. Block's new novel is an intoxicating mix of mystery, fantasy, and romance told in her signature poetic style and peopled by guardian angels, witches, a goddess, and a demon. Yet all is rooted in a sometimes dark reality of a sensitive young girl who desperately misses her father and is the object of scorn at school. There is hope in new friendships and, as in all of Block's books, there is love, which may be a dangerous angel but is also a life-saving and affirming force to be reckoned with. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The continued, ardent admiration for the YA cornerstone Weetzie Bat justifies the intense marketing blitz planned for this prequel.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

THERE are two things 13-year-old Weetzie Bat loves more than anything: her charismatic father, Charlie ("the love of my life"), who leaves her family just before the novel's start, and the city of Los Angeles, the pink-hued and merciless dreamland in which she lives. In "Pink Smog: Becoming Weetzie Bat," nearly everything about Weetzie changes - except for her love of these two things. In fact, these two bedrocks become inextricably linked as Weetzie learns to use Los Angeles and the lessons it has taught her to cope with her father's departure. Charlie's absence would be difficult enough on its own, but Weetzie also has to deal with a new school, an alcoholic mother, the first flutter of adolescent attraction, a boy who may be either an angel or a surfer, and a next-door neighbor who is either a witch with a passion for voodoo or a psychotic girl with a hateful agenda and a pair of chow chows. To readers unfamiliar with Francesca Lia Block's Weetzie Bat books, this description may sound more like a dream than a plot summary. To Block's longtime readers, however, it should have the ring of familiarity. Block is well known for instilling her contemporary stories with a dose of magic realism, and "Pink Smog," a prequel to the original Weetzie Bat novel, continues in this tradition. It's a device that works well when dealing with Los Angeles, a city that is as much invented as constructed. As Weetzie would have it, "When the sun goes down and the sky flares it is really beautiful, like magic. However, the tush-plush-peony-rose of the L.A. sky is a by-product of something that may be killing us all, little by little." Weetzie's Los Angeles is a pretty but terrible place, full of rippling pools, nodding palms, sweating soda cans and yellow Thunderbirds. It's an Eden populated with failed starlets, anorexic outcasts and washed-out teachers, as well as Staci Nettles, a well-endowed classmate with cherry lip gloss and "perfect little white fangs." This is a city terrified of aging, and Weetzie, as L.A. personified, shares this fear. The problems that plagued her filmmaker father and former starlet mother arose because they "got old," she confides to a cute boy she meets, the curiously named Winter. But the idyllic and possibly imaginary Winter announces that he, at least, will never get old. Weetzie regards adults and confident teenagers with suspicion, trusting only the child-like and helpless. Her two friends at school are the timid Lily Chin, who "had a faint layer of dark down all over her body, like a baby animal," and the ostracized Bobby Castillo, who forms an unofficial anti-mean-people club with Weetzie. Meanwhile, the forever young Marilyn Monroe is Weetzie's idolized heroine and the source of some of the most disturbing material in the novel. "I love how sad Marilyn's eyes look, even when she's smiling," Weetzie says. "I love her body that just looks like it wants to give itself to everyone like a present." Weetzie's unhealthy self-esteem and relationship to others seeps through the narrative. Her mother, Marilyn, Los Angeles - they are all the same in Block's floating tale. And float it does. In both "Pink Smog" and "Weetzie Bat," the story roams without urgency through a nebulous dreamtime. Characters appear as needed, trivial events become giants, tragedy is miniaturized and coated with soft glitter. The novel slides and shimmers through Weetzie's mother's rescue from drowning, Weetzie's hazing at a new school and the discovery of her father's possible affair. Stretching over these events is a roughly structured treasure hunt. It highlights Block's worst weakness and greatest strength: skimming the surface of a thing. Like "Weetzie Bat," "Pink Smog" sparkles and obscures; it's a glorious mirage, like the city it pays homage to. Readers are never quite allowed to be sad. However, while "Weetzie Bat" reads like a fairy tale, one extraordinary event after another without pause, "Pink Smog" struggles to find a balance between dream and reality. When a white-turbaned man in a Mercedes materializes to deliver the first treasure hunt clue to Weetzie, our suspension of disbelief fails: "All I could make out clearly were his eyes," Weetzie notes. "They looked like they had seen everything there was to see." "You must not be afraid," he tells her, tossing out a mysterious shiny silver envelope onto the sidewalk before speeding away. REALITY intrudes in the form of barely suppressed fears of child abduction and perverts in German cars. When Weetzie muses, "Something needed to start making sense," the reader is too starkly reminded that things haven't been. Still, "Pink Smog" gleams, if not as brightly as its predecessor. This is the story of a girl learning to accept that she can change only herself. Ultimately, Weetzie decides, "the worse things get, the more you have to make yourself see the magic in order to survive." The Weetzie of "Pink Smog" has not yet become as magical as the girl in "Weetzie Bat," but fans of the first novel should find plenty to appreciate in her evolution. Maggie Stiefvater is the author of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, the Books of Faerie and most recently, "The Scorpio Races."