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From the bestselling author of Weetzie Bat comes a stunning reimagining of Homer's Odyssey, exploring love, queerness, and the devastation of the environment, set in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles.
"Block’s trademark magical realism works. . . . There’s something encouraging about seeing four queer kids on an epic journey across the post-apocalyptic American Southwest." Kirkus Reviews
After the Earth Shaker, which all but destroyed Los Angeles, seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) sets out into the wasteland in search of her family, her journey guided by a tattered copy of Homer's Odyssey. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead. On her voyage, Pen learns to tell stories that reflect her strange visions, while she and her fellow surivors navigate the dangers that lie in wait.
In her signature lyrical style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. Love in the Time of Global Warming has shades of science fiction, fantasy, eco-fiction, and dystopic disaster.
Praise for Love in the Time of Global Warming:
A Top Ten ALA Rainbow Project Book
"[A] compelling apocalyptic survival story with four LGBTQ teens." Common Sense Media
"Francesca Lia Block is the imaginative bestselling author of Weetzie Bat; she brings a radiant, illuminating world of death, destruction and adventure in her novel Love in the Time of Global Warming. . . . Block will make you see, smell, hear, taste and feel Pen’s story, and she will surely wisk you away into an inspiring, fantastical, Dali-esque dream world that you will never forget." Teenreads
"Francesca Lia Block has made a trademark of twining myth and reality so snugly it’s difficult to figure out where one ends and the other begins. . . . This is a fine adventure story. . . . You’ll be thinking about it for days afterward." Bookpage
"Told in Block’s distinctive whimsical style, Love in the Time of Global Warming stands out as a uniquely poignant allegory of self-acceptance. . . . The camaraderie between these four queer teens searching for a home together amid the rubble is palpable." TOR.com
"This a beautiful book. . . . [Perfect] for teens that have grown out of fairytale books but would still like to escape the real world, and also for queer teens, because they may be able to see themselves reflected in the heroes of this story, which is how it should be." GayYA.org
"A post-apocalyptic setting awash with danger brings an exhilarating twist to Block’s signature mashup of rock-and-roll urchins and high literature." Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Block writes about the real Los Angeles better than anyone since Raymond Chandler.” The New York Times Book Review
“This Halloween, bypass the usual vampires and werewolves of teen fiction for what lurks between the covers of Francesca Lia Block's brutal, beautifully written Love in the Time of Global Warming. Those fanged and furry creatures are but a sugar rush compared with Block's genetically engineered giants as she treats us to a dystopian tale tricked out in her signature lush prose.” The Washington Post
“The dreamlike quality of the writing, typical of the author's works, functions well with the fantastical elements of the story, which is solid and dense in its descriptions. This is an excellent title for students who have read Homer's Odyssey as well as readers who enjoy a mix of fantasy and reality.” School Library Journal
“The result is original and, no surprise, gracefully written. Magic is no stranger to Block's world, nor is her signature poetic sensibility. And love, in its many varieties and forms, is celebrated, as always.” Booklist
About the Author
Francesca Lia Block, winner of the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award, is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling books, including Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books, Roses and Bones: Myths, Tales and Secrets, and the adult novel The Elementals. Her work has been translated and published around the world. She lives in Los Angeles with her two children.
Read an Excerpt
Love in the Time of Global Warming
By Francesca Lia Block
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2013 Francesca Lia Block
All rights reserved.
THE EARTH SHAKER
The room was shaking and I thought I knew what it was because I had been born and raised in a city built on fault lines. Everyone was always dreading something like this. But we never imagined it would be of such force and magnitude.
I called to Venice, the most beautiful, smartest, sweetest (and he would want me to add most athletic) boy in the world, "I'm coming! Are you okay?"
I imagined his body lying under boards and glass, pinned down, but when I got to him he was just huddled in the bed in the room papered with maps of the world, wearing the baseball cap he insisted on sleeping in (in spite of the stiff bill), trembling so hard I could barely gather him up in my arms. My dad came in and took him from me — my brother's legs in too short pajama pants dangling down, his face buried in my dad's neck as Venice cried for his fallen cap — and I got our dog, Argos, and we all ran downstairs. My mom was there, crying, and she grabbed me and I could feel her heart like a frantic butterfly through her white cotton nightgown. We ran out into the yard. The sky looked black and dead without the streetlight or the blue Christmas lights that decked our house. I could hear the ocean crashing, too close, too close. The world sliding away from us.
The tall acacia tree in the yard creaked and moaned, and then my ears rang with the silence before danger. My dad pulled us back as we watched the tree crash to the ground in a shudder of leaves and branches. My tree, the one I had strung with gold fairy lights, the one that shaded parties made for teddy bears and dolls, the tree in whose pink-blossomed branches Dad had built a wooden platform house with a rope ladder. That was where I went to read art history books and mythology, and to escape the world that now I only wanted to save.
I was holding Argos and he wriggled free and jumped down and ran away from me, toward our big pink house overgrown with morning glory vines and electric wires strung with glass bulbs. I screamed for him and my mom tried to hold me back but I was already running. I was inside.
The floor was paved with broken glass from the Christmas ornaments and family photos that had fallen. (A tall man with wild, sandy-colored hair and tanned, capable hands, a curvy, olive-skinned woman with gray eyes, an unremarkable teenage girl, an astonishingly handsome boy and a dog that was a mix of so many odd breeds it made you laugh to look at him.) My feet were bare. I reached for a pair of my mother's suede and shearling boots by the door, yanked them on, and stepped over the glass, calling for my dog. He was yelping and growling at an invisible phantom; his paws were bleeding. I picked him up and blood streaked down my legs.
I turned to open the door but a wall of water surged toward me behind the glass pane and I put up my hands as if to hold it back, as if to part the wave.
And then I fell.
That's all I remember of the last day of the life I once knew.CHAPTER 2
THE PINK HAND OF DAWN
When I wake each morning — Venice's baseball cap beside me and a photo of my family under my pillow — and feel the pink hand of dawn stroking my face, sometimes I forget that my mother and father and Venice and Argos are gone, that my best friends Moira and Noey are gone. I forget that I am alone here in this house, with the sea roiling squid-ink purple-black, dark like a witch's brew, just outside my window, where once there existed the rest of my city, now lost as far as I can see. Even dawn is a rare thing, for usually the sky is too thick with smoke for me to see the sun rise.
When I did go outside, after the water levels went down, the smoke-black air, and the piles of rubble that had once been buildings, were the first things I noticed. Then I saw the giant frightful clown in the blue ballerina tutu; he used to preside over the city of Venice and now bobbed in the water among a banquet of Styrofoam cups and plastic containers. He was missing one white-gloved hand but still had his red top hat and bulbous nose, his black beard. The clown had made me drop my ice cream and run screaming to my mother when I was a child; now he looked even more monstrous. I saw crushed cars stacked on top of one another and the street in front of my house split in two, exposing the innards of the earth. Nothing grew and not a soul roamed. The trees had fallen and the ground was barren of any life, the world as far as I could see, deserted.
The debris of splintered buildings floated in swamps that were once the neighborhood where my friends lived. Moira's family's green and white Craftsman bungalow vanished; Noey's mother's 1960s apartment washed away. Had my friends run screaming, barefoot in their pajamas, from their houses into the street? If I listened, could I have heard their voices beneath the crash of the surf? Had they been killed in their sleep? Were they conscious when it happened, were they in pain?
I think of Moira's ginger hair. Was it loose or braided? She sometimes braided it when she slept. I can see Noey's watchful artist's eyes, so round and brown in her round, dimpled face. Was she wearing one of her vintage punk T-shirts and men's striped silk pajama pants? I can pretend my friends are somewhere out there alive but sometimes hope only makes everything worse.
It's been fifty-three days since the Earth Shaker — I've ticked them off with red marks on the wall by my bed as if this small ritual will restore some meaning to my life. It's early February but that doesn't signify much anymore. No bills to pay, no homework due, no holidays. If things were different I might have been collaging Valentines for Moira and Noey and buying dense chocolate hearts wrapped in crinkle-shiny red paper for Venice.
I've cleaned the house as best I can, sweeping up the glass, nailing down loose boards. I tried to avoid bathing for as long as possible but finally, when the crust on my skin hurt, I gave in and now I use a minimal amount of the precious bottled spring water with which my anxious (overly, I once thought) father stocked the basement for a sponge bath every week and a half. I eat as little as possible from my father's stockpile of canned foods to make them last. No one has come for me this whole time, which makes me think that this disaster reaches farther than I can see. But who knows what would happen if a stranger came. Perhaps I'm better off this way.
* * *
In the morning I try to make this half-dream state last, imagining Argos licking my face the way he was not allowed to do, because it might make me break out, but I let him anyway. Then I flip him over so he is on top of me, his body stretched out, belly exposed, big paws flopping, his tongue still trying to reach me from the side of his mouth, even in this position. Above us, the da Vinci, Vermeer, Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, and O'Keeffe prints (torn from broken-backed art books found at garage sales) papered the low attic ceiling like a heaven of great masterworks. (They are still here, though damp and peeling away from the wood.)
I imagine my mother calling me from downstairs that breakfast is ready and I am going to be late for school, calling for Venice to stop playing video games and come down and eat. I cannot smell, but I try to imagine, the scent of homemade bread and eggs cooked in butter, the mix of sweet jasmine and tangy eucalyptus leaves baking in the sun. The sharp smell of turpentine in which my mother's paintbrushes soak, the sight of her latest canvas on the easel — a two-story pink house in a storm on the edge of a cliff with a sweet-faced boy peering out the window. The sound of the sprinklers zizzing on outside, the throaty coo of doves in the trees.
I tell myself that when I get up and go downstairs my mother will say, "Brush your hair, Penelope. You can't go to school like that." This time I will not make a comment, but kiss her cheek and go back up and do it, thinking of how Moira spends hours each morning straightening her hair sleek and how Noey's black pixie cut is too short to need a fuss. I will eat the oatmeal without complaining, I will be on time for school and not consider Venice High a highly developed experiment in adolescent torture.
I try to imagine that my father will be drinking black coffee and reading a book at the kitchen table. He is sleepy-eyed behind his horn-rim glasses, smelling of the garden he tends each morning, about to go to work (this is before he lost his job and the depression and paranoia set in), looking like someone who could take care of anything, not let anything bad ever happen to his family. And that my brother will be there, with his hair standing up on the back of his head, his sturdy, tan little legs, and his dirty sneakers that get holes in them after just a few weeks. I will not complain that he has finished all the orange juice, is chirping songs like a bird, asking too many questions to which he already knows the answers — Penelope, do you know how magnets work? Can you name a great African-American orator from the 1800s? What team scored the most home runs of all time? —or is wearing my basketball jersey. I will notice that his eyes are thoughtful gray like the sea at dawn, our mother's eyes.
But now all of this is as magical and far-fetched and strange as the myths my father once told me for bedtime stories. Shipwrecks and battles and witches and monsters and giants and gods are no more impossible than this.
Because, when I force myself to rise from my bed unbidden by anyone, and go downstairs, unbrushed, unanointed (my mother would not mind; it is safer this way in case any marauder should find me), the simple breakfast scene will not exist. The house will be broken and empty, the sea encroaching on the yard, the neighborhood flooded, the school — if I dared venture there — crumbled to scraps of barbed wire, brick, and stucco, the city named after angels now in hellish devastation as far as I can see. A basement full of canned goods and bottled water that my father provided, with more foresight than most, sustains me for another day that I do not wish to survive, except to await my family's return.
Fifty-three marks on the wall. If the world still existed, wouldn't someone have come by now?
Like the dead orchid beside my bed, I am still alone.CHAPTER 3
ANGELS OF THE APOCALYPSE
Noey had a jokethat we were going to start a band called Angels of the Apocalypse. I thought it was kind of stupid because only Noey could play anything — drums. Moira loved to sing and looked great doing it but she wasn't very good. It was a terrible band name anyway. Plus there were only three of us and as far as I knew there were four apocalyptic angels. But Noey had T-shirts printed with a photo of wings on the back and the name of the "band" on the front.
She and Moira wore them to the Santa Monica Mall. I felt too embarrassed so I didn't wear mine.
While Moira tried on dresses I leaned over the railing and looked down at the people and stores below, imagining what it would be like to fall to one's death here. The mall, with its greasy smells and labyrinth of silver escalators leading nowhere, always made me hungry and tired like I needed something I could never have. I would rather have been home reading about the melting clocks of French surrealism or the dark, haggard faces of German expressionism.
This kid, Corey something, from our school was hanging out in the food court and he asked if we wanted to get high with him. I didn't, not because of the weed, which I actually liked the few times I'd tried it, but because I wanted to be with my friends, without the interruption. Corey was blond-banged and athletic-looking. Moira stroked her hair, coiling and uncoiling it around her fingers, while Corey sipped her soda and asked her to sing for him since she was in a band, after all, right? I almost cried and then pretended I had something in my eye, trying to concentrate on not letting my eyeliner run. We went to Corey's house and smoked in his living room until his mom came home and we escaped out the window.
"Such a hottie," Moira said later.
I looked at her lying on my bed with those freckles, that rose-colored hair, eyes of fractured jade, and something clenched in my stomach I didn't fully understand yet. I just knew I didn't want her to talk about this Corey person at all.
Noey sat cross-legged on the floor with her camera around her neck. She and Moira both liked being at my house more than their own (Moira's parents were always busy working; Noey's mom drank and yelled) so most nights my mom invited them for dinner. We helped her in the kitchen, making complicated paella, bouillabaisse, or lasagna with fresh herbs, meats, and produce from the Sunday Farmers' Market. Venice complained about too many girls being over but he looked at them with a kind of wide-eyed, starry-lashed wonder and they asked him about his latest obsession — baseball cards or video games or football season. My mother painted me and my friends as the three Botticelli Graces, dancing in a circle holding hands, almost exactly like the original, except for our blue jeans and cotton tank tops. Only Moira liked to pose but Noey and I did it anyway to please my mom. Besides, her paintings were amazing — as dreamy as they were lifelike — and we wondered if someday the painting of the three of us would be in a museum, keeping us together forever.
I knew eventually we'd be apart. I'd applied to study art history at NYU, Moira was going for fashion design at FIDM, and Noey had a scholarship in photography at Purdue.
Sometimes we had slumber parties in my room and I'd make up stories to help them sleep — tales based on the myths I'd read or the paintings I'd seen. Tales of the great heroes of the past, who sailed the seas, fought monsters, and rescued their friends and lovers. I made up words, too, which drove my friends crazy. ("Faunishness," Penelope? Really?) Sometimes I made Odysseus, Aeneas, and Achilles into heroines instead. My friends liked that twist, although it wasn't always easy for me to do since the original stories were so male-oriented, the women in them often so passive or cruel.
Moira, Noey, and I lay together, our long legs stretching out and entangling in our sleep. In the morning sunlight flitted through the trees, over their faces like a flock of butterflies, and I'd watch my friends while they dreamed, wondering if my stories were playing out inside their heads.
* * *
The butterfly is the first sign of life I've seen since the Earth Shaker. Lepidoptera is the scientific name. It sits on my windowsill, hardly moving its orange wings — veined with black like some elaborate stained glass. I want to look at it under a microscope, the horny proboscis and the tiny scales on the wings. My mother made collages with butterflies and had her own design of them tattooed across her back — four in various descending sizes to represent our family. I want this one to fly in here with me. The air outside is ashy and smells of smoke and rotting garbage. My room isn't much better but at least there is shelter. The solitary orchid my parents bought me on my sixteenth birthday is just a brittle stalk in a pot of dirt, but I bring it over to the window anyway.
The butterfly doesn't move.
"Are you dying?" I ask it.
I think it is dying.
Why are we here — just us and no one else? Is this salvation or the worst of punishments?
Today the butterfly is still alive, but a piece of its wing is missing. I'm sure it will die in a few minutes, an hour at the most, but later in the day it is still holding on. I wonder how it can be that tenacious; I would have given up long ago.
But maybe it has a reason to live, someone or something it needs to see.
I would wait forever to see my parents and Venice, Moira and Noey and Argos, but the chances of them coming back here are probably as slight as this butterfly growing a new wing and taking flight. Still, I am too afraid to leave and search for them.
Later that day the mutilated butterfly takes off into the gray sky and I wonder if it is trying to tell me something I'm not ready or willing to know.CHAPTER 4
It's been sixty-eight days now and the hundred and twenty cans of food my disaster-conscious dad left for a family of four are more than half consumed, three quarters of the bottled water gone, in spite of my careful rationing.
The men come when I am sleeping. I wake to hear them outside in the darkness, shouting, laughing, and at first I think, Someone is here! To save me!
Then a voice shouts, "Overland's crib? Not bad. Weathered the fucking storm."
Overland! My dad.
Excerpted from Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block. Copyright © 2013 Francesca Lia Block. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Earth Shaker,
The Pink Hand of Dawn,
Angels of the Apocalypse,
The Lotus Hotel,
The Sirens of Beverly Hills,
Beatrix the Witch,
The Museum of Angels,
The Giant's Bride,
Love in the Time of Global Warming,
Oasis of Tara,
More Than Words,
An Eye for an Eye,
Bank of the Apocalypse,
House of Then,
Preview: The Island of Excess Love,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Love in the time of global warming, was my introduction to the woman the legend Francesca Lia Block. My co worker is OBSESSED with Block, so much so that she named her daughter after one of Blocks characters. I was lucky enough to meet and talk with Francesca Lia Block this past October at Wordstock. I can honestly say she is one of the sweetest persons I have had the pleasure of meeting. After I gave her my card she promised to connect. AND SHE DID!! Little ol me was delighted. So here are my thoughts. Love in the time of global warming is a retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey. A tale I still have yet to read, I know shame on me right. Well I didnt need to know anything about it. The story starts off when an earthquake basically destroys the world but with some CRAZY luck Pen our MC survives only to loose her whole family and not to mention all of her friends. After weeks of being alone she is forced out of her home and is guided by a stranger. He gives her a van and a map he tells her she can find her family. So she embarks on an adventure. Along the way Pen meets Hex. Pen is very attracted to Hex, he gets her to try a little punch which makes you higher than a kite and they end up loosing a good chunk of time. They manage to leave and meet a few other characters. Ez, and Ash. Ez and Ash accompany Pen and Hex in search of Pen’s family. Along the way it seems Ez and Ash fall in love with each other. Ive heard from others how lyrical Block’s writing is. How recognizable her style is. Im not sure about all that being this was my first book what I can say is the writing was magnificent. The world after the earth shaker was so vivid in my mind. The story was not what I expected more than once I was caught off guard. I do have a few questions that perhaps for Block should we ever cross paths again. I do have to say I was greatly inspired by Hex’s tattoo. So much so that its on the list of tattoos to get this year. What is it you ask well. “Non sum qualis eram” Im not what I once was. If that doesnt describe me I dont know what does.
It was really good at first, and I enjoyed the writing style. However, I think the plot got muddy.