Girl Goddess #9 – Francesca Lia Block

girl goddess

Reading level: 4.3

Genre: Short stories, empowerment, coming of age

ELL-Friendly: Basically yes, but some sentences are deliberately run-ons or fragments.

Library recommendation: Maybe high school, although I’d rather not have the book on the shelf and instead use certain stories as mentor texts due to the graphic content of certain stories.

Francesca Lia Block fills her 9 short stories with beautiful prose and imagery. Some of the stories resonated with me while others were boring. I regret to say that this book will stay off my classroom shelves because of the frequent references to sex, drugs, and alcohol that show up in almost every single story to a point where it is a bit graphic if not excessive. Not appropriate for middle school students and maybe not even high school. However, individual stories could be xeroxed and read in class. I would feel much better reading hand-chosen stories as a class so that the teacher has time to explain and discuss the references to the above-mentioned inappropriate (for school) topics.  Some could be used as mentor texts.

Because I will forget which stories I loved and why, here is a brief summary of each story.

Spoilers

Tweetie Sweetie Pie: Written from the viewpoint of a toddler. Story could be analyzed for use of language and perspective that emerges through the eyes of a very young narrator. (liked it)

Blue: Narrator is young girl (middle – high school) whose mom has died and there are hints that she had schizophrenia. Girl finds an imaginary friend who is both male and female. Girl shows signs of being bisexual while struggling to make friends. Deals with mental illness of the girl’s mother and how that causes the girl to find the imaginary friend. (loved it)

Dragons in Manhattan: My favorite! Narrator is a young girl who lives with her two moms. She faces bullying at school because she has two moms and no dad. She seeks her real father and learns the value of having her two moms as her family. Deals with sex change, cross-dressing, lesbian families, and bullying, but is ultimately about love and family. (loved it)

Girl Goddess #9: Two girls are in love with a rock star and possibly in love (more like infatuated) with his female partner. Didn’t care for this one too much. Lots of swearing in this one too. (meh)

Rave: Narrated by a boy (the only story to do so) who loves a girl named Raven. In just a few pages, the reader feels his love for her. Rave parties and takes drugs, and they part ways before the boy knows of Rave’s fate. I struggled to find the message behind this story, but it was beautiful and heartbreaking. (liked it)

Canyon: Features an inter-racial teen couple. Includes drinking and drugs and a graphic sex scene. Has a theme of escape because the narrator seeks to escape from her life and town by fleeing with a boy she doesn’t even know. This is the story that solidified that I can’t put this book in my classroom. (meh)

Pixie and Pony: Made me wonder why almost all characters (all of them, even) have odd names. Anyway, this story is about what it means to be friends versus “best” friends. I found it pretty boring… (meh)

Winnie and Cubby: A teen couple where the boy reveals that he’s gay. The couple decides to stay friends. Includes some beer-drinking and dead and abusive parents. Has tidbits about the girl looking like a guy and her boyfriend being a beautiful girl. My favorite quote from the entire book: “The most beautiful people are the ones that don’t look like one race or even one sex” (163). (liked it)

Orpheus: About a woman (older than just a girl, I think) who loves a singer-song writer but breaks off the relationship to find herself. Kind of a let-down as a last story. (meh)

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