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Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block

Baby Be-Bop (1995)

by Francesca Lia Block

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This book is sort of a prequel to the first in the series " Weetzie Bat". It is told through Weetzie's best friend Dirk and his fear of who he is. It deals with learning to love yourself and accepting who you are. ( )
  DeweyEver | Mar 18, 2014 |
From Amazon: Grade 10 Up: A prequel to the popular books about Weetzie Bat and her circle of quirky friends and relatives. This novel is about her best pal, Dirk, in his pre-Weetzie days. He's in high school (in L.A., of course), living with Grandma Fifi and struggling with how to come out to his best friend and soulmate. Although Dirk never does tell Pup he's gay, Pup feels the sexual tension between them: "'I love you, Dirk,' Pup said. 'But I can't handle it.'" In reaction, Dirk takes to slam dancing in punk joints. When a gang of gay bashers beats him up, he drags himself home and passes out. While he's unconscious, long-dead relatives he's never known come to him in what seem to be dreams; when he wakes in the hospital, he realizes that his grandmother has been telling him stories. Out of her comforting words about how others in his family have insisted on being themselves, his battered brain fashions hopeful hallucinations, including one of his future lover. His visions assure him that "There was love waiting; love would come." Block writes distinctively and convincingly, interweaving the hallucination scenes smoothly. She makes the power of stories felt?and here, more purposefully than ever before, she weaves a safety net of words for readers longing to feel at home with themselves. Gay teens in particular need this book. All fans of the series will relish meeting nice-guy Dirk as the tender Baby Be-Bop.?Claudia Morrow, Berkeley Public Library, CA.
  rschwed | Oct 5, 2013 |
5Q 3P (my codes)
Electric language, shimmering imagery, and fantastical optimism. Francesca's prose glitters and pulses with the energy of the raves frequented by Dirk. There's a rhythm to her sentences that captivates the reader, in this heartbreaking story of unaccepted love and desperate longing for acceptance and love. Dirk is a teenage boy who lives with his ethereal grandmother "in her cottage with the steep chocolate frosting roof, the birdbath held by a nymph, and the seven stone dwarfs in the garden" (p. 9). Dirk loves Pup, Pup is afraid to love anyone but girls. And so Dirk hides and reshapes himself and goes on long drives out into the night. Magic crackles in the background of most of the book, with occasional flares of realization and illumination. When an act of horrific violence brings Dirk low, he learns the importance of story--the difference between "de-story" and "re-story." Life might just be better now. Teens might need a little push to get into the book, but those that stick with it will yearn for more. ( )
  jelizabethmills | May 13, 2013 |
With the three deaths that have happened recently, young people driven beyond the brink from being bullied due to their homosexuality, I was glad when I picked up the final book in the Dangerous Angels series. It gave me some hope.

Baby Be-Bop is a prequel of sorts to Weetzie Bat and tells the story of Dirk McDonald throughout his childhood and entering into adolescence. This is a coming out story of the first order. Dirk realizes from a very young age that he is different and later realizes that he is gay and the ramifications that is going to have for himself and his family.

He agonizes over telling his grandmother Fifi who he worries it will hurt. He struggles with his feelings for his best friend Pup and worries about the effect it will have on their friendship. He gets into trouble, smokes weed, gets a fake ID and sneaks into clubs, dresses as a punk rocker so that no one will mess with him, falls in love and deals with heart break. Baby Be-Bop pulls no punches as Dirk deals with everything from friends that are too afraid to come out of the closet, to finding out that others that are out were not careful and are now suffering from HIV or AIDS.

Finally Dirk ends up struggling with thoughts of suicide and has to find a reason to live, a story that will make him want to live. That's when the magic that is in all of the Dangerous Angels books comes to life and the genie in the lamp appears to give Dirk hope. Baby Be-Bop can be read as a standalone book and if you want to read a magical, fantastical GLBT story then I recommend you read this one. It's short, but to the point. It shows someone being driven to the brink by hatred and being saved by love, hope and understanding. ( )
  exlibrisbitsy | Oct 15, 2010 |
I'd never heard of Francesca Lia Block or her "Weetzie Bat" series before I read about some group of right-wing wackos in Wisconsin seeking permission to publically burn Baby Be-Bop. At that point I knew nothing of the book--only that I had to buy it and read it.

So how is the book? It's tender, and lyrical, and sweet--and yes, very frank in its handling of the teen protagonist's homosexuality. I'm glad there are books out there like this one for kids who may feel they are "the only one." The character Dirk is tormented and sad, but he is also surrounded by love, and I think this is a good and realistic (although threaded through with fantastical elements) depiction.

I want to thank the West Bend, Wisconsin hate group for bringing this work to the national spotlight. It resulted in my purchases a five-volume omnibus of Block's "Weetzie Bats" series, which I've found so far to be an interesting read. I encourage everyone to do what I do, and get their reading recommendations from banned book lists.

News story on the controversy: http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2009/06/16/francesca_lia_block/index.html ( )
1 vote johnsshelf | Aug 20, 2009 |
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Dirk had known it since he could remember.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0064471764, Paperback)

Everyone has a story to tell ...

Dirk McDonald's life was almost perfect. He lived with this grandmother, Fifi, in a beautiful gingerbread cottage in Hollywood. He had the beach, and his surfboard, and Fifi's red-and-white 1955 Pontiac convertible.

But Dirk wasn't happy. Inside, he was harboring a deep, dark secret. And he was afraid that if he admitted it to anyone - even Fifi - he would never be accepted again.

Then one night, Dirk's magic lamp came to life. Suddenly, all the stories from Dirk's past came flowing out of it. On that night, his life changed forever. At last, Dirk learned who he really was, and that any love that is love is right.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:12 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Dirk MacDonald, a sixteen-year-old boy living in Los Angeles, comes to terms with being gay after he receives surreal storytelling visitations from his dead father and great-grandmother.

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