Dangerous Angels is a collection of five interconnected young adult novels. They follow Weetzie Bat, the effervescent, bubbly bleach-blonde girl who sees the best in everyone and everything, transforming Los Angeles into a shiny Shangri-L.A. through her pink Harlequin sunglasses. Each story is brief and luminous, and the omnibus format works very well to showcase them. Block's writing is not quite like anything else I've come across. She makes me happy like bubbly champagne and wildflowers. The first story is Weetzie Bat. Weetzie's best friend is Dirk, the best-looking guy in high school with a cool black Mohawk and a red '55 Pontiac convertible named Jerry. When Dirk tells her he's gay Weetzie replies "It doesn't matter one bit, honey-honey." (p.7) Weetzie finds a genie in a magic lamp, and wishes for "...a Duck for Dirk, and My Secret Agent Lover Man for me, and a beautiful house for us to live in happily ever after." (p.19) The genie grants her wishes and she and Dirk inherit his grandmother's lovely house, Dirk meets a surfer named Duck and Weetzie meets a movie director named My Secret Agent Lover Man. The "happily ever after" part gets complicated when Weetzie wants a baby. This is a beautiful, whimsical, magical story.Witch Baby follows My Secret Agent Lover Man's daughter, who is a young child in this story. Weetzie and My Secret Agent Lover Man tell Witch Baby that she was left on their doorstep, because they don't know how she will take the truth (that My Secret Agent Lover Man fathered her while having a brief affair with a voodoo witch named Vixanne) but Witch Baby is depressed and angry because she doesn't know how she - the outcast misfit with tangled hair and obsession for cutting out gruesome articles from the newspaper - can possibly fit into the shiny, happy family of Weetzie Bat. This is a story about finding yourself and discovering where you fit in the world.Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys takes place a few years after Witch Baby. Witch Baby and her sister, Weetzie, Duck and Dirk's daughter, Cherokee Bat, are teenagers. With the adults away working on their latest movie project, the girls and their boyfriends, Raphael and Angel Juan, form a band called the Goat Guys. In trying to give her band mates and friends some self-confidence, Cherokee ends up giving them over to powerful Native American magics channelled through the mystical gifts. The kids must realize what's really important before it's too late.Missing Angel Juan shifts the focus back to Witch Baby. When her boyfriend leaves her to pursue his own dreams, a devastated teenage Witch Baby follows him to New York city. In New York she stays at the apartment where Weetzie's father, the screenplay writer Charlie Bat, died. Charlie's ghost appears to comfort Witch Baby, guide her around the city and makes her feel special and loved, but they both have things to learn from each other. This is a beautiful story about learning what it means to love someone, and when to let them go.The final novel featured in this collection, Baby Be-Bop, turns things around, giving the reader a prequel centered on Dirk's character. Dirk faces his own struggles growing up gay, unsure whether he can tell his grandmother or his best friend. When Dirk is attacked and left wounded and bleeding, he is visited by ghosts of dead relatives via a magic lamp, who share with him their own stories of prejudice and intolerance, beauty and romance, magic and tragedy. As the characters reveal their secret histories, Baby Be-Bop becomes a story about the importance of telling stories. "Telling your story is touching. It sets you free." (p. 476) "But all the ghosts and demons are you. And all the angels and genies are you. All the kings, queens, Buddhas, beautiful boys. Inside you. No one can take them away." (p. 343)Highly recommended.
Francesca Lia Block's writing is beautiful and poetic. The stories sparkle and shimmer with a fairy-tale quality, but electrified with thoroughly, deliciously modern language and sensibilities. Few of the stories progress with traditional plots; instead they often seem like pieces or fragments, like half-remembered dreams glimpsed upon awakening, yet this somehow only enhances their beauty.