I loved Weetzie Bat from the very first moment I met her. It was assigned reading in my Young Adult Literature class, and I still loved it. I was twenty years old reading about magic, family, and love in a book that pushed all of my boundaries, and I knew right away that I had found something that was true for me.
Weetzie Bat taught me about family. Missing Angel Juan got me through break-ups and reminded me of how it feels to move past fear. I discovered that magic of fairy tales through these books, and I am grateful.
Somewhere along the way, I parted ways from Ms. Block’s writing. Her more recent novels have delved into the world of vampires and werewolves–not my thing. The poems in How to (Un)Cage a Girl were mostly misses for me save the “Forty-five Thoughts for my Daughter and my Virtual Daughters,” which is less for teens and more for moms.
Then I found House of Dolls. Block’s first book for younger readers has gotten mixed reviews, but I must agree with Booklist‘s starred review:
“What at first seems to be about the perrennial war between familial generations is expanded into a message about the global forces of pride and avarice that plunge innocents into devastation. This is powerful, haunting, and–just when you don’t think it’s possible–inspiring, too.”
I recently wrote a blog post about talking to your kids about human rights, and I am reminded now of the power of fables and fairy tales in explaining these terrible things. Perhaps the next time you are trying to explain war to a child, you will think of these words, spoken by one of the dolls in House of Dolls:
“War is being blinded and locked in a box, unable to see, hear, or touch you, my wildflower. War is being reminded that you are completely at the mercy of death at every moment, without the illusion that you are not, without the distractions that make life worth living.”
- Review of House of Dolls at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy
- Review of House of Dolls at Charlotte’s Library
- Francesca Lia Block’s Official site
- Barbara McClintock’s Official site – the illustrator of House of Dolls and many other books for children