Thursday, January 12, 2012
Louise is an unhappy thirteen year old girl that really would like to be called Weetzie. Her parents constantly fight and their unhappiness finally resulted in her father, the person who means the world to her, leaving for good. Her mother drowns her sorrows in booze, leaving Weetzie to fend for herself. Not only is she bullied at school by the popular crowd, but the teachers also routinely humiliate and mock her. Her life is in shambles and she tries to pick up the pieces, starting out with following fairy tale clues from a mysterious benefactor, befriending a couple of fellow outcasts at her school, and saving an angelic boy from his voodoo doll torturing sister. Will Weetzie's difficult life break her or will she rise above it all and take control of her life?
I absolutely loved the Weetzie Bat books when I was a kid. Her stories really inspired me and helped me through some difficult times. I was so excited to hear that Francesca Lia Block would be revisiting and expanding upon the series. In Pink Smog, Weetzie is more vulnerable and much less sure of herself in comparison to her later teen and early adult self. She flounders as her life suddenly falls apart and his forced to grow up because of her father's abandonment and her mother's drinking. Instead of being taken care of as she should, both of her parents abandon her and she takes care of her mother as best she can as someone who can't fully take care of herself. I really felt for her and hurt with her as her support system crumbled. I also celebrated with her when she found people she could confide in and believed in herself more. Weetzie got me to connect with my pre-teen self where everything is felt much more intensely and where I felt less sure about who I was.
As with many of Block's other novels, Pink Smog is at its heart a loving portrayal of LA and its unique effect on people. The title itself describes the beautiful pink sunset seen in LA because of the disgusting smog in the air. This encompasses what I love about the city: the beauty and wonder is very close to the grime and less savory aspects. This great center of culture that is famous for celebrities and the privileged is also home to homeless people, strip clubs, and the dregs of society. I've never seen another place like it and it holds a special place in my heart. Block doesn't glamorize it and shows it how it is.
Pink Smog is a formidable prequel to Weetzie Bat and I enjoyed reading this blast from the past. As always, Francesca Lia Block's beautiful prose brings the novel to life. I would recommend this to anyone, whether they have read any of the series or not.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins
** Pink Smog will be released 1/24. Check it out here. **