Published by Harper Teen on October 13th, 1999
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Buy on Amazon
This is the story of two girls, racing through space like shadow and light. A photo negative, together they make the perfect image of a girl. Violet is the dark one, dressed in forever black, dreaming Technicolor dreams of spinning the world into her very own silver screen creation. Claire is like a real-life Tinker Bell, radiating love and light, dressing herself in wings of gauze and glitter, writing poems to keep away the darkness. The setting is L.A., a city as beautiful as it is dangerous, and within this landscape of beauty and pain Violet and Claire vow to make their own movie. Together they will show the world the way they want it to be, and maybe then the world will become that place--a place where people no longer hate or fight or want to hurt. But when desire and ambition threaten to rip a seamless friendship apart, only one thing can make two halves whole again--the power of love.Francesca Lia Block's latest novel is a beautifully told story that boldly combines the world of film with the lyrical graceful language of poetry. The voices of two friends--one dark, one light--combine to tell a larger tale of love and loss, and the strength that comes from believing in dreams.
For a while, I’ve been thinking of doing a feature or something where I could showcase older books that I loved but haven’t read in a few years. I realized, though, that I don’t really have that much time for rereading, so I sort of just tossed that idea to the side and moved on. But recently I’ve been itching to read some older Francesca Lia Block – she was my favorite author as a teen, and this reading slump I’ve been is has been begging me to get to a comfort read. So at random, I pulled Violet and Claire from my shelf, and man, am I glad I did.
It has been a seriously long time since I read Violet and Claire. It wasn’t my favorite book by FLB when I read it the first time, and honestly it still isn’t. But I think I got more out of it this time around. I was able to see the thing hidden under the surface text and I understood better the emotions the author was trying to convey. I felt much more connected to the characters, reading as an adult.
Violet is not very likable. Like, at all. But that doesn’t stop her from being a great character to read about. She’s a control freak. She’s kind of pretentious. She doesn’t know how to read the social cues of others, though she very much believes she understands the human condition. She’s a survivor; she suffers from depression and even overcame thoughts of suicide and self-harming. Movies and film-making are her passions and her obsession and dedication are endearing. Violet is writing a screen play loosely based on her own life, but because she is just 17, because she hasn’t really experienced the world yet, she is still searching for that elusive conflict. She puts herself in dangerous positions to find a Love Interest, a Meet Cute, a Conflict. And when it finally comes together for her, things turn sour, and fast.
It isn’t until the second half of the book, when the POV switches, that we get to understand Claire more. Violet kind of put her up on a pedestal and was more interested in what Claire could be instead of who Claire really is. It’s hard not to let your heart break for Claire, a girl so thirsty for love that she will look in every wrong place to find it, will soak up any attention she can get. She has been through so much, with her father leaving her family, and bullying – and way, way worse – at school. You want so badly for things to go her way. The reader will fall in love with the lyrical poetry of her voice.
Violet and Claire though a quick read, is not an easy one. These girls go through so much pain, both together and apart. But the end is magical anyway. Their love for one another is stronger than the conflict that tore them apart. If you’re a fan of Francesca Lia Block and haven’t read this one yet, I urge you to. It’s not as poetic and lush as, say, I Was A Teenage Fairy, and it’s definitely more grounded in reality than Weetzie Bat so I do believe that Violet and Claire can widen the audience for FLB’s books, especially for those who love contemporary books with LGBT themes.