Francesca Lia Block has gained a tremendous following writing stories about the young denizens of Los Angeles that are simultaneously ethereal and utterly tangible. Titles such as The Hanged Man
, Dangerous Angels
, Girl Goddess #9
, and I Was a Teenage Fairy
explore the heaviest issues facing teens--including all variety of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll--with the light touch of skillful poet. In Violet and Claire
, Block once again exposes us to both the best and the worst of the City of Angels, as we trace the rise and fall of a female friendship from thrilling expectations to soul-squelching excess.
Set against the glittering background of Hollywood, Block's work has long been marked by an intensely visual style, so it is perhaps appropriate that this story opens like a screenplay: "FADE IN: The helicopter circles, whirring in a sky the color of laundered-to-the-perfect-fade-jeans. Clouds like the wigs of starlets--fluffy platinum spun floss." The script theme continues with chapter subheadings such as "EXT: HIGH SCHOOL QUAD--DAY" and "INT: LIMO--NIGHT" while teenage wannabe filmmaker Violet and gossamer-winged poet Claire take turns telling their story. Everywhere Violet is dark, Claire resonates light. And as they make the arduous journey toward adulthood by way of the silver screen dream, it is this essential oppositeness that both draws the two together and drives them apart. Luckily, there's a Hollywood ending for the yin-yang duo, "the photo negative of each other, together making the perfect image of a girl." (Ages 12 and older) --Brangien Davis
From Publishers Weekly
Block (the Weetzie Bat novels) sets herself new challenges and meets them with consummate grace in this resonant novel. Violet and Claire, best friends, are polar opposites: Violet is angry and intense, with a fierce ambition to write and direct films; Claire is passive, attempting poetic transcendence of the casual cruelties of everyday life. Each girl gets what she thinks she wants. Violet, still in high school, lands a six-figure film deal, and Claire begins a romance with her poetry teacher. But these fulfilled dreams sour, and Violet and Claire become painfully estranged. In a triumphant finale, they embrace, aware that their relationship restores the balance missing in their separate personalities. The elements of the storyAfairies, overnight fame, arts, sex and drugs, glamorous parties and, of course, the heady Los Angeles settingAare classic Block; the combination, however, is fresh and arresting, and her fans will applaud it. The narrative line is more pronounced than in previous works and, in another departure, provides a clear division between the fantastic and the real. The fairies, for example, belong to Claire's fantasy history of a lost race of "faeries" ("The patriarchy turned them into little insects," she explains to Violet). Cynical Violet and dreamy Claire alternate as narrators, projecting distinct voices that gradually come to resemble each other. Shedding a transformative light onto the often complex, sometimes dark nature of close friendships, Block's writing is as lush and luminous, as hip and wise as ever. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
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