“Why had she buried the doll?” Or, The Doll in the Garden

Image courtesy of Goodreads

Image courtesy of Goodreads

Ten (Almost eleven) year old Ashley and her mom are moving from Baltimore to the small town of Monkton Mills, Maryland for a fresh start following Ashley’s father’s death. They are renting an apartment that’s on the top floor of a large house owned by the elderly Miss Cooper. Ashley gets on Miss Cooper’s bad side immediately because she takes a disliking to Ashley’s cat, Oscar. It wouldn’t have been difficult to get on Miss Cooper’s bad side anyway, she’s an old grump and bad is the only side she has.

Miss Cooper’s backyard is large and well-tended except for a garden that is an overgrown mess. That garden sits on the border of Miss Cooper’s yard and the neighbors, The Smiths. Kristi Smith is a little younger than Ashley, but they become friends anyway. There are no neighbors on the other side, just an empty lot. Ashley is warned by Miss Cooper to stay out of the garden.

Ashley and Kristi don’t listen to Miss Cooper and they play in the garden anyway. Kristi says the garden is haunted, that there is a ghost cat who hangs around and people hear a child crying at night. Ashley doesn’t believe her, until she sees the cat and hears the sounds at night. Curiosity gets the best of her and she and Kristi explore the garden. They do see the cat, who isn’t a ghost at all, but is corporeal and has a nametag which says Snowball. They also find a doll buried in the garden. The doll’s name is Anna Maria, and there is an apology note to Louisa Perkins from Carrie in the doll’s box.

Kristi is terrified of the doll, but Ashley wants to save it, so she sneaks it out of the garden and hides it in her room. Kristi and Ashley fight the next day over who should keep the doll. Ashley keeps seeing Snowball hanging around the yard and hearing the child cry. One day, Ashley follows Snowball to the other side of the yard and through a hole in the hedge to the empty lot next door.

Only, it’s not an empty lot anymore. There’s an old house with a little girl sitting on the front porch. Ashley talks to the little girl who has a terrible cough. The little girl is named Louisa Perkins and she has consumption and is terribly upset because her best friend Carrie took her favorite doll and won’t bring her back. Ashley promises she will bring Anna Maria back to her.

That evening, Miss Cooper arrives on Ashley’s doorstep, telling her that she knows Ashley stole her doll and demands it back. Ashley realizes that Miss Cooper is Carrie, and refuses to give the doll back, telling her that it’s Louisa’s. Miss Cooper is shocked Ashley knows who Louisa is. Ashley’s mom forces her to give the doll back to Miss Cooper.

The next day Ashley, accompanied by Kristi, follow Snowball to the empty lot, which magically transforms and timehops to Louisa’s house. They tell her they weren’t able to get Anna Maria. Louisa is upset because she knows she’s dying. Kristi and Ashley come to believe that if they get the doll back from Miss Cooper, they will give it to Louisa and her life will be saved because her mood will lift and her cough will get better.

But that means confronting Miss Cooper. It takes a lot, but finally Ashley convinces the cranky old lady to follow the cat next door. As they crawl through the hedge, Miss Cooper ages back to however old she was when she stole Anna Maria from Louisa. Ashley and Kristi follow the now-young Miss Cooper into the house and listen at Louisa’s door. Carrie apologizes for taking the doll and Louisa forgives her.

As they head back next door and into the present, Ashley and Kristi immediately run to the cemetery, convinced that they just saved Louisa’s life. But they’re heartbroken to see her gravestone with the same date on it. Miss Cooper makes them cookies and lemonade and they all become friendly. Miss Cooper and Ashley has similar dreams. Miss Cooper dreams that Louisa is forgiving her and telling her to be happy, while Ashley dreams that her father is forgiving her for being angry with him for dying and asking her to be happy.

While I didn’t get into it much, there is, underneath the main story of ghosts, the very sad story of a little girl who is grieving her lost father. At the end, Ashley and her mother end up having a very sweet heart to heart about how much they miss him.

This book was published in 1989, and while I know I read this one, I was twelve when it came out, which is really just a little too old to really enjoy this. This book wasn’t nearly as scary as Wait Til Helen Comes, nor was it as emotionally on-point as Daphne’s Book. Still, it was a fine story, and would definitely make good starter material for an eight or nine year old just getting interested in ghost stories, but for whom Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark might be a little too much.

Posted in Mary Downing Hahn, paranormal | 2 Comments

On Anxiety. Or, Horton Hears a Who

Image courtesy of Goodreads

Image courtesy of Goodreads

I was a weird kid with a lot of anxieties and fears.

Most kids would fear things like a boogeyman or stranger danger. Maybe they’d be afraid of being left alone, forgotten by their parents. Or they’d sneak in a scary movie and suddenly be afraid of werewolves and vampires and ghosts.

Not me. My biggest fear was the Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who.

Though we owned many Dr. Seuss books, we didn’t own that one. So my first experience with the book was when it was read to me at school in the first grade.

If you aren’t familiar with this particular book, here’s a brief synopsis. Horton the Elephant is splashing in a pool one day when he hears a noise coming from a speck of dust. It turns out there is an entire tiny world living inside that speck of dust (The Whos, from Whoville) and Horton decides he needs to protect that world at all cost.

Horton is then teased and persecuted by a lot of other animals who think he’s crazy. But Horton stands his ground and keeps Whoville on a clover and goes out of his way to protect it. Finally, with all the Whos shouting, and with help from a very little Who named Jojo, who plays with a Yoyo, they are able to be loud enough that all the animals can hear them. And no one thinks Horton is crazy anymore, and everyone helps him protect Whoville.

So what’s so scary about that? There are no bad guys (except maybe that awful bullying Kangaroo and her Joey), and nothing that frightening happens.

And maybe it wasn’t that the book scared me so much, as it caused me a lot of anxiety. Because I was suddenly terrified that all the specks of dust being sucked up in our vacuum cleaner were actually tiny little perfectly formed worlds full of sentient beings who we were killing by our vicious cleaning.

I remember pulling dust bunnies out from under my bed and leaning my ear in real close to try and hear some Whos. I would go out at recess at school and look for specks of dust on the clover. I would be afraid to blow away my eraser dust after making a mistake on a paper because what if a whole world was in that bit of eraser dust????

My stomach was in knots with worry. But I was only six years old and I didn’t have the capacity to explain to anyone exactly how much this was affecting me. I told my mom, but she thought I was being adorable. But this was real and I was having trouble eating I was so upset.

One night I was lying in bed, not yet asleep when a thought occurred to me. What if, while I’d been sitting here worrying about worlds in specks of dust, we were just a world inside a speck of dust? What if we were the Whos? And out there, in some much larger world, we were at the mercy of an elephant who was being bullied by a Kangaroo? What if our elephant wasn’t as strong as Horton and the Kangaroo got his way and drowned us all in a pool?

I learned early that if you’re anxious about something, the worst thing to do to get a good night’s sleep is double-down on that anxiety. Even though I no longer believe every speck of dust has a world in it, I still sometimes get a little anxious thinking about the vastness of the universe and how we aren’t much more than a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. But mostly, I’m comfortable with it now.

Posted in Dr. Seuss, General nostalgia | 6 Comments

“I want him to think I’m pretty,” Or, I’ll Be Seeing You

image courtesy of Goodreads

image courtesy of Goodreads

I didn’t read this book as a teenager. It was published in 1996 when I was in college. But I saw this in the used bookstore and took one look at this amazing cover and I knew this was a Lurlene McDaniel book I had to have.

Carley Mattea is sixteen years old and she’s in the hospital. A rollerblading accident left her with a broken leg, which wasn’t healing because her leg got infected, so she’s in for leg surgery plus IV antibiotics. It’s not life-threatening, but Carley is no stranger to hospital stays. Four years earlier she’d had a cancerous tumor removed from her left nasal passage. While she’s now considered cured from the cancer, that surgery left her with major facial deformities.

Carley and her hospital pal, Reba (who has Spina Bifida and is in the hospital for abdominal surgery) are excited when a new boy is admitted to their floor. Carley can’t sleep one night and walks into his room and notices his eyes are bandaged. The boy is Kyle Westin and he had a chemistry accident (he and his friends were fucking around and making their own rocket fuel when it exploded in his face) which injured his eyes. It’s unknown whether or not he will ever regain his vision.

Carley and Kyle hit it off, but Carley doesn’t want him to know she has a deformed face. So when Kyle’s therapist recommends “seeing” with his eyes, she won’t let him touch her face, instead telling him that she knows he’s going to get his vision back and she wants him to ‘see’ her for the first time when he’s got it back. They spend their days chatting and dealing with being sick and being in the hospital. Kyle doesn’t know how Carley can understand what he’s going through so well. After all, she’s only there with a broken leg. Carley doesn’t tell him about the cancer.

Carley’s sister, Janelle, has a boyfriend who Carley hates. It turns out she’d overheard Jon talking shit about her face once. So one day when Kyle’s friends come to see him in the hospital, he wants Carley to come in the room to meet them. Carley convinces Janelle to do go in her place (by guilt-tripping Janelle’s boyfriend into convincing her it’s a good idea). Kyle wouldn’t know because he can’t see, and his friends can be impressed by the good-looking Janelle and won’t tell him about her face. Janelle is appalled, but is convinced. Reba is beside herself with disgust at this lie to Kyle.

They manage to pull it off, and Carley only feels worse about herself when Kyle tells her that his friends thought she was pretty. Carley gets released from the hospital and makes a decision not to think about Kyle any more. But Kyle calls her a few times. And when he has the good news that his vision is returning, he wants to see her. Carley chickens out and says that she has a boyfriend and can’t see him. Though she makes another convoluted plan involving Janelle and her boyfriend (which Janelle doesn’t even know about) so he can at least ‘see’ what ‘Carley’ looks like.

It seems to work, but one day Kyle stops by the bookstore that Carley’s parents own while she’s working there and the whole truth comes out. Kyle is angry at her lies, and Carley refuses to see that that is why he’s angry. She believes he is deep-down disgusted by her face. They get into a big fight and he stalks off. But a few weeks later is Valentine’s Day and there is a big ruckus at school, because some guy is flying a small plane over their school with a banner that says ‘Carley, Be Mine. K.W.’ So, you know, maybe he likes her for her after all.

  • HOLY SHIT A LURLENE MCDANIEL BOOK WHERE NO ONE DIES. I thought for sure Reba was going to die in surgery. What are you playing at Lurlene? I read your book expecting…nay, DEMANDING young dead people. I’ve called your books Death Porn for Teens for so long and you’re just making a liar out of me.
  • Most L McD books are flat out terrible. This one was terrible, but underneath the layer of terribleness, I feel like there was a good story hiding there. Somewhere. Maybe.
  • Janelle’s boyfriend Jon is fucking terrible, but not because he made fun of Carley once. He’s terrible because he’s possessive of Janelle to a point that is dangerous and creepy. But it’s only because he loooooves her so much, so it’s totally OK and the womenz are only property anyway. Lurlene is not only not a feminist, she’s actively anti-feminist.
  • Oh, ugh. The Lurlene-errific dialogue. When Jon apologizes to Carley he says, “I was smarting off for the guys. Acting like a big shot.” Because that’s completely how eighteen year old guys talk.
  • Carley uses humor as a defense mechanism. Well, she uses a special Lurlene-ified brand of ‘humor.’ When Reba says maybe Kyle would like Carley in spite of her appearance, Carley says, “Sure…and if cows could fly, we’d all be wearing football helmets.” HAHAHAHAHA. *wipes eyes*
  • “Reba, get a grip. In the years between twelve and twenty, guys don’t think with their brains or see with their eyes, They see through the eyes of all their friends.”  I actually thought Lurlene was going to make a dick joke there.
  • Carley is shocked when she finds out Reba has a boyfriend. The boyfriend has cerebral palsy and he comes over to Reba’s house to watch videos. They go to the same special ed school. But Reba has Spina Bifida, which hasn’t affected her mind at all. And this guy has CP, which I know CAN affect the mind, but if he’s at school with Reba we can assume his hasn’t. So, why are they in special ed school? If their handicaps are only physical in nature, they should be in regular classes, right?
  • This book was published in 1996, and in the back there’s an ad for LurleneMcDaniel.com. I’m actually sort of impressed that she had an internet presence that early. The website is still in existence.
  • Also at the end of the book Carley goes to see a plastic surgeon who will be able to help her face. But the important thing is that Kyle didn’t even know about the plastic surgery when he flew that plane. So, you know, good for Kyle.
Posted in Angst, Lurlene McDaniel | 4 Comments

“Commencement means beginning….” Or Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye

Screenshot 2015-02-13 at 20.00.47

This book is almost as old as I am – I was born in ’77 and it was published in ’78.  I’d like to think that I’ve aged better than this book has. It’s not really Lois Lowry’s fault – the whole way we search for people has changed in the last thirty blah-blah years.

Natalie Armstrong is seventeen years old and is graduating high school. She has two amazing parents and a sixteen year old sister, Nancy who she is very close to. The only thing is that Natalie is adopted. And no matter how much she loves her parents and her sister, she never stops thinking about her birth mother. Her parents know about her desire to find her birth mother, and at first they are a little hurt. But eventually they understand that Natalie wanting to find her isn’t really about them. So their graduation present to her is their help in finding her birth mother.

Natalie’s adoption was not through an agency, it was a private adoption. The only person who knows both the identity of the birth mother as well as the identity of the adoptive parents is the lawyer who facilitated the adoption. That lawyer is Natalie’s starting point.

Natalie’s first stop is Simmons Mill, a small Maine town where the lawyer practiced. The town is so small there are no motels, and Natalie stays a few nights at the house of an older woman who runs a boarding house. The old woman knows everyone, and gives Natalie the news that the lawyer she’s looking for has been dead for a decade. Natalie asks after the Doctor who delivered her, Dr. Therrian, and she’s told that he’s in the hospital being treated for cancer. And that both his wife and his only son pre-deceased him.

Natalie pays a visit to old Doc Therrian, who is very clearly not doing well. But he sees Natalie and believes she is someone called Julie. Though he is sickly, Natalie manages to have a nice conversation with him, and he tells her he remembers her birth very well – and he gives her the name of her birth mother, Julie Jeffries. The only thing that shocks Natalie is that Julie Jeffries was only fifteen when she had Natalie. This news is shocking for Natalie, whose first instinct is to be little Miss Slut-shaming McJudge-a-lot toward her birth mother. Though she gets over it quickly(ish).

Natalie goes to the Simmons Mill public library and looks through old newspapers and high school yearbooks for Julie Jeffries. It appears that Julie spent only one year, her Sophomore, at Simmons Mill High School. And she’s shocked to see her in the year book, because Julie looks exactly like Natalie.

Unfortunately, there is no information about Julie’s whereabouts after she left in her sophomore year. And this is all the information she goes back to Bar Harbor with. It’s Natalie’s boyfriend, Paul, who has the idea of calling the Paper Mill to find out where Julie’s dad (Clement, an executive at the Mill)  went after leaving Simmons Mill. Natalie calls and finds out from personnel that Clement Jeffries transferred to Philadelphia after leaving Maine.

Natalie gets back from Simmons Mill, but before she can do anything the family gets news that Natalie’s grandmother, Tallie (for whom Natalie is named) has gotten sick and is in the hospital.  Natalie’s mother goes to stay with the grandmother for a little bit, leaving Natalie in charge at home. Natalie begins to appreciate all that her mother does for them.

While their mother is gone, Natalie continues her search. She calls the mill in Philadelphia and learns that Clement died in 1974. She happened to talk to someone who remembered the Jeffries because their daughter went to the same boarding school as Julie – Miss Sheridan’s in Connecticut. And she knew that Mrs. Jeffries moved to Detroit from a Philadlephia suburb called Glen Severn after Clement’s death.

A call to Miss Sheridan’s had no forwarding address for Julie. And information had no information for Clement Jeffries in Detroit. It seemed like Natalie’s search had come to an end. But then she remembered how her boyfriend joked that her birth parents, because they were rich, were probably Episcopalian. On a whim, she called the only Episcopalian church in Glen Severn, PA and talked to a secretary who happened to have stayed in touch with Margaret Jeffries, Julie’s mother. She gave Natalie Margaret’s contact info, and Julie called her birth grandmother pretending to be an old school mate of Julie’s from Miss Sheridan’s.

She learned that Julie became a model and lives in New York City with her husband and two sons, ages six and four. Natalie can’t wait, and she heads off to New York.

New York is different than small-town Maine, obviously. Julie is clearly wealthy and lives in a beautiful building. Natalie thinks she can’t just go in there, so she leaves a note with the doorman for Julie explaining who she is and asking her to call her at her hotel. Barely any time passes and Julie calls.

They meet the next day at the Russian Tea Room. Natalie is overwhelmed because Julie is beautiful. She turns heads, and as a model is dressed impeccably. But they don’t bond immediately. Julie is distant and ignores Natalie when she says she wants to be a doctor and tries to convince her to go into modeling. The whole meal is weird. And the next day, Natalie goes to Julie’s apartment and meets Julie’s sons, who are whisked away by their nanny.

Here’s the kicker. Julie gives Natalie the diary that she kept during her pregnancy, and Natalie learns that her biological father is Doc Therrian’s son. Doc Therrian was the only person who showed Julie any kindness while she was young and pregnant. Natalie knows that Doc is dying – and has maybe even died already. She leaves New York and goes back to Simmons Mill one more time to visit Doc before he dies. He is very close to death, and Natalie isn’t sure that he can hear her, but she thanks him for the kindness he showed to Julie. And to assure him that she has a wonderful life.

So at the end, Natalie feels whole. Like she’s completed her own puzzle and she doesn’t feel compelled to maintain a relationship with Julie. She loves her parents and she looks forward to starting college in a few weeks.

  • So, yeah. This reads almost like a historical document in how to find people in the pre-internet age. It’s actually kind of interesting, all the avenues she has to go down instead of sitting down in front of Google.
  • This is the book that Claudia read in Claudia and the Great Search when she was convinced she was adopted. Claudia is not as good a detective as Natalie.
  • You gotta be careful, meeting bio parents. When I was in college, I worked with a woman in her early-20’s who was adopted and chose to locate her biological family and met them and it turns out they were giant assholes and kept trying to get money out of her. She said finding them was the worst decision ever.
  • Adoption fact: adoptions are more and more likely to be open adoptions nowadays. Where the adopted parents keep in contact with the biological mother (and father in some cases) with pictures and updates. Open adoptions are actually considered more successful.
  • Natalie’s mom and grandmother are both artists, which in early Y.A. lit means they are WACKY. But their wackiness is lame. Natalie’s dad is a logical doctor, and he is so good-natured about his wife and mother-in-law’s crazy artistic antics. It’s all very stereotypical.
Posted in Angst, Lois Lowry | 1 Comment

“This is time to be his friend,” or Remember Me to Harold Square

Image courtesy of Goodreads

Image courtesy of Goodreads

After re-reading (and not liking at all) The Cat Ate my Gym Suit, I was a little nervous to read another Paula Danziger book. But I shouldn’t have been. While it’s not great literature, Remember Me to Harold Square is a perfectly fine book, for a book written for twelve year olds in 1987.

Kendra Kaye lives in New York City with her parents and brother, Oscar (Nicknamed OK.) She’s fifteen years old and is going in to tenth grade. She’s super bummed because all of her friends are going to be out of the city for the whole summer. And she envisions months on end of hanging out with ten year old OK.

But that doesn’t happen. Because her parents have friends who are going to Europe for the whole summer, and they’re leaving their fifteen year old son, Frank, to stay with the Kayes. Frank lives on a cattle farm in Wisconsin, and Kendra is super nervous about having a boy living in her house for the summer.

To keep the kids from getting bored, Kendra’s parents create a NYC-based scavenger hunt for Kendra, Frank, and OK. They have a huge list of things that have to see and do over the summer. That’s what most of the book is, these three kids going from place to place in New York, and Kendra being really grateful her parents chose to raise her there.

And Kendra has a little crush on Frank. But he has a girlfriend back in Wisconsin, Mary Alice. Part way through the summer, Frank gets a break-up letter (pre-cell phone, pre-email days) from Mary Alice and he is super bummed. Kendra decides to hang up her crush and just be a good friend to Frank.

Frank eventually gets over Mary Alice, then at a Mets game he pulls Kendra aside and kisses her. And it’s sweet and those two really dig each other. But the of course he goes back to Wisconsin at the end of the summer.

  • Really. Both of Kendra’s parents work and they’re just fine with their fifteen year old daughter spending so much alone time with a sixteen year old boy.
  • This scavenger hunt is HUGE. The kids have to do about three things a day every day in the summer. There are museums, neighborhoods, restaurants, churches, and attractions. The parents had a little account for them to use to go to everything.
  • It’s clear that Paula Danziger loves New York and wrote the book as a sort of love letter to the city.  This book is responsible for eleven year old me dreaming of leaving my small town and living in a city. (It didn’t quite work. I left the small town for a large suburb. But I’m at least a quick subway ride to a city.)
  • While I did like this book more than The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, it had the same problem with terrible dialogue. Really stiff and unbelievable. Also, with both of these books, it’s easy to see the upward trajectory of YA lit in the last twenty or thirty years. Because the writing is very juvenile for a twelve-ish year old today. The prose reads very much like things that my eight year old is reading. Any twelve year old who’s already read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games isn’t going to like this.
  • Kendra hates how over-protective her mom is. And she says it’s because her mom was raised by parents who survived the Holocaust. Which that may be, but considering there are a lot of overprotective parents out there, I’m not sure about that link.
  • I think the real reason Danziger made Kendra’s grandparents survivors though, is that it made for a more emotional visit to the  Jewish Museum.
  • Kendra loves puns. Which is terrible, but Frank loves it so I guess that means they’re made for each other. Because no one else would put up with that shit.
  • So the reason Frank’s parents didn’t take him to Europe: They’d been having marital problems for a few years. Then Frank’s dad got cancer. With the parents busy with his dad’s treatment and running the farm, they had very little time to spend with Frank. So Frank started acting up, doing poorly in school, and dating an older girl (the aforementioned Mary Alice). Things were tense and they decided to let Frank have some time away from them and get to see a new city.
  • Still, it’s totally effed up to go to Europe and not take your sixteen year old.
  • I had a lot of other thoughts about this book, but I let about a month go by between reading it and actually writing this post.
  • Oh, but check out that amazing 80’s-tastic book cover. Kendra’s clothes and her hair. Nice. Also, my husband looked at the cover and saw the rainbow behind Danziger’s name and wanted to know why there was a pride flag on the book.
Posted in Paula Danziger | 4 Comments

Books read: 2014

I finished The Cuckoo’s Calling last night with just a couple hours left in the new year!

As always, books read for the blog are asterisked* and books I highly recommend are bolded.

1. Wonder When You’ll Miss Me; Amanda Davis
2. The Art of Fielding; Chad Harbach
3. She-Hulk, Vol 6: Jaded; Peter David, et al
4. Eleanor & Park; Rainbow Rowell
5. Growing Up Brady: Barry Williams
6.Hyperbole & a Half: Allie Brosh
7. Boxers; Gene Luen Yang
8. Saints; Gene Luen Yang
9. What if They Knew; Patricia Hermes*
10. The Reece Malcolm List; Amy Spalding
11. Ramona & Her Mother; Beverly Cleary*
12. Kristy’s Great Idea (The graphic novel); Ann M. Martin & Raina Telgemeier
13. Wonder Woman, The New 52; Brian Azzarello, et al
14. Wonder Woman, The New 52 Vol. 2; Brian Azzarello, et al
15. Who’s Reading Darci’s Diary?; Martha Tolles*
16. Last Call in the City of Bridges; Savatore Pane
17. Hollow City; Ransom Riggs
18. Sex, Drugs, & Cocoa Puffs; Chuck Klosterman
19. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town; Kimberly Willis Holt
20. Orphan Train; Christina Baker Kline
21. A Long Way Down; Nick Hornby
22. It’s Not What You Expect; Norma Klein*
23. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life; Bryan Lee O’Malley
24. Wonder Woman, the New 52, Vol.3; Brian Azzarello, et al
25. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Bryan Lee O’Malley
25. Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness; Bryan Lee O’Malley
26. Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together; Bryan Lee O’Malley
27. Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe; Bryan Lee O’Malley
28. Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour; Bryan Lee O’Malley
29. Brains; Robin Becker
30. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit; Paula Danziger*
31. More Than This; Patrick Ness
32. Wonder Woman, the New 52, Vol. 4; Brian Azzarello, et al
33. Notes from an Accidental Band Geek; Erin Dionne
34. Darkfever; Karen Marie Moning
35. Someone to Love; Norma Fox Mazer*
36. Attachments; Rainbow Rowell
37. No Place for Me; Barthe DeClements
38. Sisters; Raina Telgemeier
39. Youth in Revolt; C.D. Payne
40. The Complete Deadpool, Vol 1; Daniel Way, et al
41. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 1; Brian Michael Bendis, et al
42. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 2; Brian Michael Bendis, et al
43. Band Geek Love; Josie Bloss
44. Under Twelve Not Allowed; Page McBrier*
45. Sisterhood Everlasting; Ann Brashares
46. The Magician’s Land; Lev Grossman
47. Seconds; Bryan Lee O’Malley
48. Landline; Rainbow Rowell
49. Bone; Jeff Smith
50. Ten Kids, Not Pets; Ann M. Martin*
51. Lumberjanes, Vol 1-8; Noelle Stevenson, et al
52. Weetzie Bat; Francesca Lia Block*
53. Bone, Vol 2; Jeff Smith
54. Hero; Perry Moore
55. The Cuckoo’s Calling; Robert Galbraith

Posted in general | 5 Comments

“Now we can duck hunt together,” or, Weetzie Bat

Screenshot 2014-12-28 at 19.27.52

Image courtesy of Goodreads

I don’t know what to even think of this book.

On one hand, I read it quickly and didn’t seem to enjoy it much while I was reading. But on the other hand, I can’t stop thinking about it so it must have had some effect on me, even if I can’t quite define what that effect is.

Weetzie Bat is a girl of an undefined age (but I’m thinking seventeen or eighteen) who befriends Dirk. They are inseparable best friends and they spend their days hooking up with various guys who they call ducks.

Dirk’s grandma loves Weetzie and gives her an old lamp, out of which a genie pops and gives Weetzie three wishes. She wishes for guys for herself and Dirk and for a house for them to all live in. Then Grandma Fifi dies and leaves her house to Dirk and Weetzie. They live there, and Dirk falls in love with Duck (see, because Weetzie asked for a Duck for Dirk.)

Eventually a filmmaker called My Secret Agent Lover Man (named for the same reason as Duck) falls in love with Weetzie and they four of them live together.

Then Weetzie wants a baby, but My Secret Agent Lover Man doesn’t. So Weetzie sleeps with Dirk and Duck (and of course with My Secret Agent Lover Man) and becomes pregnant and they all raise the baby together. They have a girl, who is named Cherokee Bat.

My Secret Agent Lover Man is unhappy with the situation and leaves Weetzie, but he eventually comes back. Several months later, a baby is left on their doorstep, the product of a fling My Secret Agent Lover Man had while he was gone. They decide to raise this girl as a sister for Cherokee. They want to call her Lily, but she ends up being called Witch-Baby, because her mom was a witch.

Also, Weetzie’s dad Charlie Bat dies, and one of Duck’s friends dies of AIDS, but they never mention the word AIDS which is weird.

I don’t know. I really don’t. The book is short and it took me about an hour to read the whole thing. The language is super simple and there is little in the way of emotional development or descriptors. And it’s really weirdly hipster-y and we’re supposed to love that Weetzie wears Native American headdresses (ugh) and they call their car Jerry and the dog Slinkster.

But….but. I don’t know. I keep thinking about it. And maybe even though there wasn’t a lot of emotional pull to the characters while reading it, something must have been there because I’m still hoping that Weetzie and Dirk and the gang are OK. (There are sequels, but I probably will never get around to reading them.)

Also, I’m drunk -posting right now.

Posted in francesca lia block, teen sex | Tagged , , | 12 Comments