Reprinted by permission of the American Library Association
Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block isn't a very large book. But if Young Adult books were divided into weight classes, Baby Be-Bop would be a lean, swift, hard hitting welterweight, packing a hearty punch into so few pages. It is the story of Dirk McDonald, a young man who just happens to be gay. The first half of the book is Dirk's growing up under the care of his sweet grandma Fifi, his parents having died in a car crash. The latter half of the book is a wonderful imaginative dream sequence, a journey through Dirk's mind and emotional landscape that is compellingly written, and concludes with a heartfelt ending that suits the tone of the book perfectly. The story is told through lush, beautiful imagery, the prose and character names evoking the feel of a modern fairy tale. Dirk's life is not a fairy tale, however, as he struggles to deal with his own feelings and his fears of the world's reaction to his identity.
Block's book, a prequel of sorts to Weetzie Bat (as Dirk appears as a supporting character there), is powerful even in its brevity. It captures well the feelings of uncertainty in a young person questioning their identity, and even in its fairy tale tone evokes the true grim and ugly nature of those who hurt people out of hatred and bigotry. It is almost a shame that a book that is about acceptance and love would evoke reactions of anger and calls for banning and burning, yet such events have occurred even in the state of Wisconsin. For more of Block's work, check our catalog for availability.
Tim @ Central
This review is presented in honor of Banned Book Week.