Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Teen Spirit

"Our thoughts are wild creatures who've been wounded countless times. We have to tame them."

Francesca Lia Block returns this year with a new novel, Teen Spirit. Some vintage FLB touches are in evidence: beautiful L.A. houses, girls who dress in vintage and have a connection to the spirit world, loving characters snatched away too soon. . .

Julie's life changes forever when her beloved grandmother suddenly dies. Julie and her mother lose their home, and more importantly, the touchstone of their lives. Julie's grandmother was the only one who comforted Julie after her winding nightmares and who told Julie she was excellent just as she is. Now set adrift, awash in grief, Julie begins a new high school, moves into a crummy apartment, and has to deal with her mother suddenly dating an inappropriate man. Julie realizes that in addition to her vivid dreams she can see auras around people. Then she finds an old ouija board left behind in the apartment and with it, she and her new best friend (a great character who wears odd hats and insists on smiling at everyone he meets) contact the spirit world.  Unfortunately--or not so unfortunately? it's not always clear--Julie and her friend bring back a ghost who doesn't want to be dead, and who has the ability to take over the body of a person Julie holds dear.

Can't say too much for fear of giving away plot points that are better discovered by the reader. Is this my favorite FLB book? No, not by a long shot, and perhaps FLB could have done more with the story than she did, but what she did do is satisfying. Good for readers who want to understand the nature of grief and loss
and who have an interest in the supernatural. Points for atmosphere--no one writes the hidden beauty of L.A. like FLB.  I can't wait to see what she writes next.

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