Necklace of Kisses

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Francesca Lia Block wrote the Weetzie Bat series of adolescent novels in the late 1980's and 1990's, and Necklace of Kisses is an adult update. Weetzie has turned forty, has two daughters (Cherokee and Witch Baby) now in college, and a husband who does not kiss her any more. The novel follows Weetzie as she escapes in her orange sneakers and 1965 mint-green Thunderbird to a legendary pink hotel in Los Angeles to try to figure out her problems, and where she meets a series of fantastical characters—a blue- skinned receptionist, a mermaid, an invisible cleaning lady, and a spider lady, among them. The pink hotel was the scene decades ago of Weetzie's high school prom, when she regrets she did not kiss her date, but now she kisses a series of otherworldly characters, receives precious stones, and learns her mission: to find the goddess within herself (instead of seeking the god in someone else), and to do something for others.

The original Weetzie Bat novels stunned reviewers, for there was no category of adolescent fiction to contain these contemporary fairy tales. It is hard to maintain those fantasies at forty, however, as Weetzie discovers, and readers may find the story a little dated—there are a lot of references to the punk scene of the 1980's (Kurt Cobain, bands playing Sunset Blvd., etc.)—and derivative (Breakfast at Tiffany's, twelve dancing princesses, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.). Weetzie thinks her story is a magic realist novel or a Fellini movie, but it feels more like a parody of Tom Robbins, a novel for fifteen-year-old girls who dream of shopping for clothes on Melrose Ave.