by Francesca Lia Block

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Wasteland by Francesca Lia Block

When you were a baby I sat very still to hold you. I could see the veins through your skin like a map to inside you. I stopped breathing so you wouldn't ... You were just a boy on a bed in a room, like a kaleidoscope is a tube full of bits of broken glass. But the way I saw you was pieces refracting the light, shifting into an infinite universe of flowers and rainbows and insects and planets, magical dividing cells, pictures no one else knew ... Your whole life you can be told something is wrong and so you believe it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061757471
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 586,482
File size: 320 KB
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt



We keep burning in the brown smog pit. The girls swarm in their black moth dresses. Their scalps are shaved like concentration camp ladies. Rats click my head. Everything broken.

When you were a baby I sat very still to hold you. I could see the veins through your skin like a map to inside you. How could skin be that thin? I was so afraid you might drop and break. I stopped breathing so you wouldn't.

When you were crying I got out of bed and went into your room. You were thrashing around behind the bars of the crib, your face twisted and red, like, how could they be doing this to me? I didn't understand why Mom hadn't come to you.

You turned your head to look at me. Your eyes looked so big in your face, so mysterious -- wide and flickering like a butterfly-wing mask. When you saw me the wails turned to sobs, and then just quieter heaves of your body. I held out my finger through the bars.

Then you reached out and curled your fingers around mine, so tight. I knew you recognized me. That was the first time I knew I had a heart inside my body.

You still cry too easily, but without your tears, at least, everything would burn. You are Spring in your jeans, in the laughing leaves. I think pearls melted over your bones.

I thought sacrifice might mean something. The wounds throb even though they're not real yet. Would you reach inside them to uncover the secret? You try to tell me but your tongue feels severed.


You were just a boy on a bed in a room, like a kaleidoscope is a tube full of bits of broken glass. But the way I saw you was pieces refracting the light, shifting into an infinite universe of flowers and rainbows and insects and planets, magical dividing cells, pictures no one else knew.

I remember. I was going on a date and I came into your room. I wanted you to see me, but I pretended I was coming to see if you had any beers in the ice chest under your bed. I was wearing my shiny leotard and my wraparound skirt, my cork sandals and Jontue perfume and Bonne Bell lip gloss. I had shaved my legs and they were pretty tan already, even though it was May. I knocked and you didn't answer. I thought the music was too loud and you hadn't heard. It was this crazy banging shouting music I'd never heard before. I just opened the door.

You jerked up and looked at me. You were in bed with the sheet over you and the room smelled close. I smelled your pot and beer and your smell -- salty, warm, baked. I read in a magazine that women aren't supposed to be attracted to the smells of their fathers and brothers.

You sat up and your eyes were blank and hard -- mad. You yelled, What are you doing? Don't you knock anymore!

I backed up and your eyes turned sad, then kind. You said, I'm sorry, you. Hang on, and I turned and pretended to look at some albums while you got up. You were buttoning your black jeans when I turned around. But you didn't have a shirt on. You looked pale -- usually you were tan by spring, too, darker than me -- but your skin was white and smooth like marble. I could see every segment of muscle in your stomach; your arms looked stronger, too. There were some weights on the floor. I apologized and you sat on the bed and asked me what I wanted. You never asked me that when I came to you. We just accepted the pull that brought us into the same spaces as often as possible. I mumbled something about the beer. I wanted you to like my outfit, I wanted your praise because without it I felt like I was going to fade into nothing. This little shiny leotard and rayon jersey wrap skirt would walk out all alone on platform sandals to meet my date.

You said, Where are you going? You sounded like a dad and it scared me. I said dancing. You asked where and I said, Kaleidoscope. You rolled your eyes. Why that disco shit? You never spoke to me like that. I could feel my face getting hot. I hoped my tan and the Indian Earth makeup on my cheeks and eyelids would hide it. I smelled my perfume and it was way too sweet; I wanted to smell like you. You saw me getting upset and you said you were sorry again. You asked if I was going on a date, I looked pretty. I said kind of. Michelle and I were meeting some boys. You asked who was driving. I said Michelle. You said you didn't want us drinking. You asked if you could drive. I said no. I didn't want you to see me with Brent Fisher. I was afraid you'd tease me about him forever. You shrugged. You said, Whatever, have fun, and you lay back on your bed and closed your eyes.

I came home at about 2:30. My leotard was sopping wet. I had sweated off all my lotion and perfume and deodorant and I kept sniffing my armpits on my way upstairs, touching with one fingertip and sniffing. I wondered if you could smell the beer that Brent Fisher and Billy Ellis got for us. I was chewing some Bubble Yum to try to hide it. The sugar coated my mouth but bitter, the sweet was all gone, like I'd sipped perfume.

I knocked and you answered. I couldn't believe it when I saw you. Your head was shaved. I thought you looked so naked and different, vulnerable and ugly and beautiful ...

Wasteland. Copyright © by Francesca Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Wasteland 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
teharhynn on LibraryThing 1 days ago
Poetically written. This book deals a little in the taboo, but it was a very interesting read. Even if the subject matter doesn't call you to, you should give the writing style a chance. It's much unlike anything that I've ever read.
xicanti on LibraryThing 1 days ago
This is a book about dealing with love and loss when neither is socially acceptable. Like many of Ms. Block's books, Wasteland employs a fragmented, vignette-style narrative structure, allowing the story to unfold subtley via a series of short, emotional bursts. Sometimes this style works beautifully; sometimes it doesn't. Here, it didn't quite work. The novel was nicely set out, with good pacing, a lot going on beneath the surface, and a satisfying amount of tension, but somehow it failed to plumb the emotional depths that Ms. Block's work usually reaches. It's not a bad book, but it's by no means her best work.
Crowyhead on LibraryThing 7 days ago
A strange, at times confusing novel. The language is beautiful, but in the end I was left a little unsatisfied. Still, in many ways this is much better than Block's other recent novels.
Tysheema Holmes More than 1 year ago
Short and sweet. Amazing characters and style. Awesome plot. One criticism, the ending seemed a bit forced/tacked on. I would reccomend thixs author and book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and it only took me a a few hours to read it, but i wish that it was longer.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wasteland is a book that is different from most romance novels. Like all teenage romance novels, it talks of romance but in a twisted way that makes the reader's heart reach out to the characters in the book. Marina, the little sister of the story, is a strong character who chooses not to deny the harsh reality that her brother died and instead tries to find memories of him for her to keep. I like how she tries her best to be brave and strong and trying to figure everything out alone. West, the boy that has always been on the sidelines watching Marina and Lex, is another character that I admire because he tries his best to help Marina find traces of her brother while trying to put aside the undeniably strong realization that he loves her. West is a brave and incredibly kind character because he wishes for Marina to be happy, yet at the same time he wants her to let go of her brother and turn to him for comfort. Teenagers of all ages might find this book intriguing because of its uniqueness, and maybe even adults would enjoy it. The level of reading isn't hard and I would rate this book as a 5 out of 5.
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SSettgast More than 1 year ago
This is a story that will make your mind and body sore. The depiction of love, life, and heartbreak will leave you begging for more and praying for answers. You will never find another tale quite like this one.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an incredible, moving, poetic novel and I loved every second reading it. I've read this book three times and, short as it is, I keep finding something new. The characters were relateable and I felt very moved by this story. A deep read for anyone looking for a truly amazing novel by a very gifted author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books I've ever read. True: I'm only a teenager and so I haven't read thousands. Also the truth, though: This book is amazing, no matter what. The way F.L.Block writes in a fragmented, simple, poetic way makes me understand why I love reading so much. 'Don't judge a book by its cover'? Well, the cover is a beautiful, shiny hycanith and just about makes me cry. I can explain how lovely Block's writing is, you'd just have to read and feel it for yourself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is really a tragic story. Francesca lia block is an artist. She weaves a painful story with grace and sophistication. her characters come to life and this is not just a novel anymore. It's life and love and sacrifice and fear. Readers will find themselves hurting for the characters and crying their eyes out. I know I did for at least an hour. Yet, I do not think, despite how growing and pure the love is, adoption doesn't change anything. They are brother and sister. It doesn't matter about blood or DNA. However, I understand this is just my opinion. I feel that Lex, at the time, had no other choice. He felt it was his only option. To be haunted by a fatalystic and forbidden love must such as this must have been torture. Especiallly, it being his sister. How do you cleanse your soul and body from what the two did? That does not mean I encourage suicide as a way out, though. But I do understand actions and why he did it. A heart-wrenching tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was really a terrific book. after i got into it, i could barely put it down. it was a little bit confusing for me at first, but i kept reading it. it is definitely worth it. the ending was very surprising. this was a great book. i recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a great book. raw emotion and extreme confusion and strong love. it made me cry. its an amazing book. highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always loved Francesca Lia Block so when i read this book i was not dissapointed.Its such a sad story,the ill fated love between Marina and Lex.And to top it off,Lex committed suicide for nothing.At the end,the book echo's of 'what if'.What if they had known that Lex was adopted?Would he have still killed himself?Would he and Marina lived happily-ever-after?My fav book by Ms.Block used to be Echo,but this book has totally bumped it from the top.