The Waters and the Wild

( 7 )


When Bee woke up, there was a girl standing in her room. "You are me," the girl said. Then she was gone.

I am a thirteen-year-old double Gemini. I get bad grades, write poetry with my left hand, dance in my room, surf the net. I Google images of the tattoos my mom won't let me get. . . .

But my world belongs to someone else. Someone who lives below the concrete of Los ...

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The Waters and the Wild

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When Bee woke up, there was a girl standing in her room. "You are me," the girl said. Then she was gone.

I am a thirteen-year-old double Gemini. I get bad grades, write poetry with my left hand, dance in my room, surf the net. I Google images of the tattoos my mom won't let me get. . . .

But my world belongs to someone else. Someone who lives below the concrete of Los Angeles, someone with wild eyes and twigs in her hair.

And I think she wants her life back.

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Editorial Reviews

Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Block’s trippy poetic prose and magical realism will enthrall her fans.”
ALA Booklist
“Short enough to be read in one sitting, but nonetheless has an impact that will be felt much longer…perplexing and ethereal.”
Publishers Weekly

Awash in a bruised and aching adolescent sensibility, Weetzie Bat author Block's new novel doesn't waste a word. Doubles abound: doppelgängers, past lives and dual worlds in which poetic truths can exist alongside the banal details of modern teenage life. Never quite at home-even in her own home-Bee is jolted out of her social isolation by a nighttime apparition of a girl who looks just like her: " 'You are me,' the girl said. Then she was gone." Seeking to discover the meaning of this vision, Bee throws her lot in with two other outcasts at school (one thinks she is a reincarnated slave, the other, possibly an alien). For a time, their new friendship buoys all three ("She had, if only briefly, belonged," Bee thinks. "The world she had never loved before had turned to gold"). Still, hints indicate that Bee's alter ego is intent on reclaiming her place, and Bee grows mysteriously ill. Fragments of poems by Yeats and Shelley are eerily apropos (and may provide an irresistible invitation for further reading). Haunting and thought provoking. Ages 14-up. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
The only place Bee has ever felt she belonged was in her garden. When a girl appears, looking like a dirty, wild version of Bee and saying that Bee has stolen her life, Bee is inclined to believe her. In her search for answers, she finds Sarah and Haze, friends with equally unusual outlooks on life. Block explores the universal conflict of adolescence: the desire to fit in and the awareness of a different-ness. The idea of the changeling introduces an interesting twist on this struggle, as Bee simultaneously learns she really does not belong and finds people with whom she fits. Written primarily from Bee's viewpoint, her thoughts are clear and insightful. I was left, however, wanting more explanation of the process of being a changeling from a perspective outside of Bee's head. The unique qualities of this book may not be accessible to all readers, but with well-defined characters and flowing language, this book will ring true to many adolescents. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
School Library Journal
Gr 7-9–Bee, 13, wants to eat the dirt in her mother’s garden; Haze believes that he is half-alien; and Stephanie thinks that she is a reincarnated slave girl from the 1800s whose name was Sarah. One day Bee sees a girl in her room who could be her twin. After the girl says, “You are me,” she disappears. Bee usually doesn’t talk to anyone, but decides to ask Haze about the vanishing figure. He explains that she is a doppelganger and that seeing one means your eminent death. Bee hears Sarah sing a Billie Holiday song about lynching and talks to her. The three loners become friends. They crash a party by deciding to be invisible and enjoy drinking and dancing before being caught. They grab hands, run out of the party, and fly away. When they land, Bee finds a poisonous plant in her pocket. The teens figure out that she is a changeling, and the real Bee is desperate to have her body back. The author does an excellent job of integrating background slices of paranormal history and poetry. This slim novel is comprised of short chapters, is quickly paced, and has a surprise ending. It will appeal to reluctant readers, fans of the bizarre, and teens who feel that they don’t quite fit in.–Samantha Larsen Hastings, West Jordan Public Library, UT
Kirkus Reviews
This brief novella, an overly pat melding of magical realism and metaphor, brings together three teens who feel so alienated from society that they believe themselves to be, well, alien. Protagonist Bee sees her own doppelganger and comes to believe she is a changeling. Her friends Sara and Haze are a reincarnated slave girl and an extraterrestrial, respectively. Together, the three don't mind their outcast status as much as they did apart. They learn to fly, or at least to pretend they do. They crash a party, either because they learn the spells to make themselves invisible or just because they're lucky. Perhaps the world is enriched by their friendship, perhaps not. Where Block's works once treated magic as metaphor but also as magic in its own right, this speedy read doesn't allow for any mystery that isn't mere allegory for adolescent emotional traumas. Bee's friends "had seen, or believed [they] had seen" amazing things, the tale concludes, nullifying its own magic. Neither fantasy nor a rich exploration of character. (Fiction. 12-14)
ALA Booklist
“Short enough to be read in one sitting, but nonetheless has an impact that will be felt much longer…perplexing and ethereal.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061452444
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/2/2009
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 1,274,906
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block, winner of the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award, is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling books, including Weetzie Bat; the book collections Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books and Roses and Bones: Myths, Tales, and Secrets; the illustrated novella House of Dolls; the vampire romance novel Pretty Dead; and the gothic werewolf novel The Frenzy. Her work is published around the world.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by LadyJay for

    Bee knows that she is different from other teenagers. She has a strange affinity with the earth, dreaming of eating it in handfuls to be more connected to it. Bee feels more at home in her mother's garden rather than at school or with other people. She never has an appetite and sees people for who they are, their true selves.

    There is also the matter of her doppelganger. Bee begins to see her, in dreams and during her waking hours. She wants something from Bee; she wants her life back.

    Bee has also befriended two outsiders, very much like herself. Haze is a tall, gangly boy who believes he was fathered by aliens. Sarah, with her braided hair and beautiful voice, tells Haze and Bee that she is the reincarnated soul of a slave girl. Neither one of these confessions shocks or mystifies Bee; she simply accepts them to be fact. Their differences make them unique and bring them together.

    With the help of her two eccentric friends, Bee finally discovers who she is and where she truly belongs.

    I have had the pleasure of reading many of Francesca Lia Block's other novels, and this one seemed different to me. It was easier to connect with the characters in this novel. They felt more "real" to me than in previous works.

    Obviously, there is still that element of fantasy, but it doesn't saturate the story. Block has found a perfect balance of reality and fantasy. Fans of fantasy novels will love this book because of its fantastical elements, but those who are looking for a story about a young girl who is discovering her identity will also enjoy it.

    Block has a way of crossing many genres and groups of readers; she has certainly done so with THE WATERS AND THE WILD.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book.

    This book is short but very good. I came to love the characters, and their little quirks. I wish it lasted longer.

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  • Posted November 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautifully written and absolutely magical....

    Beautifully written and absolutely magical! i fell in love with this book the first time i opened it! The details make you want to crawl in between the pages and make yourself part of the story. I highly recommend this book! it's simple yet utterly seductive.

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  • Posted September 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I love Ms. Block :)

    Francesca Lia Block is my favorite author; I am sure I have mentioned this before! :) When I read her work, I feel her words deeply penetrating my psyche and my soul. What writing could be better? While I also enjoy regular fiction and mysteries, her poetic writing is my preferred reading material. This book is not, in my opinion, her best piece, but it is worth reading, all the same. It is short and sweet like most of her tales. This would be a good first book to read if you have never tried Ms. Block before.

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    Posted August 7, 2009

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