Cover image for Violet & Claire
Violet & Claire
Block, Francesca Lia.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 1999.
Physical Description:
169 pages ; 19 cm
In search of material for a screenplay they are developing, seventeen-year-old Violet and her new friend Claire try to make life a movie as they chase their dreams through dangerously beautiful Los Angeles.
General Note:
"Joanna Cotler books."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.7 4.0 43312.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



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.

2000 Quick Picks for Young Adults (Recomm. Books for Reluctant Young Readers)

Author Notes

Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles, California on December 3, 1962. She graduated from the University of California Berkeley and wrote her first book, Weetzie Bat, while a student there. It was published in 1989. Her other young adult works include Baby Be-Bop, Violet and Claire, How to (Un)cage a Girl, and The Waters and the Wild. She is also the author of the Weetzie Bat series. She has won several awards including the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Library Association in 2005 and the Phoenix Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 10 and up. Violet wears all black and is always working on her screenplay. Claire wears fairy wings taped on her Tinkerbell T-shirt and sees herself as a changeling. Both are ostracized at their Los Angeles high school and find in each other missing parts of themselves. The friends are eventually driven apart by Violet's sudden, remarkable success as a screenwriter, under the influence of a manipulative mentor, and Claire's crush on a poetry instructor whom Violet knows to be unfaithful. Block's rich imagery and trademark magical realism propel the plot past some absurdities that no doubt mirror the movie industry. However, with real-life 17-year-old screenwriter Jessica Kaplan's success in 1996, Block's plot seems more fact based than fantasy. It is also less successful than prior books, in which her wonderfully imaginative characters carried the story. As always, however, Block excels in depicting strong and supportive friendships between teen girls, and Violet & Claire is at its best when the two protagonists reach past their own pain to help each other. Some strong language and a fairly graphic sex scene suggest a mature audience. --Debbie Carton

Publisher's Weekly Review

Block (the Weetzie Bat novels) sets herself new challenges and meets them with consummate grace in this resonant novel. Violet and Claire, best friends, are polar opposites: Violet is angry and intense, with a fierce ambition to write and direct films; Claire is passive, attempting poetic transcendence of the casual cruelties of everyday life. Each girl gets what she thinks she wants. Violet, still in high school, lands a six-figure film deal, and Claire begins a romance with her poetry teacher. But these fulfilled dreams sour, and Violet and Claire become painfully estranged. In a triumphant finale, they embrace, aware that their relationship restores the balance missing in their separate personalities. The elements of the storyÄfairies, overnight fame, arts, sex and drugs, glamorous parties and, of course, the heady Los Angeles settingÄare classic Block; the combination, however, is fresh and arresting, and her fans will applaud it. The narrative line is more pronounced than in previous works and, in another departure, provides a clear division between the fantastic and the real. The fairies, for example, belong to Claire's fantasy history of a lost race of "faeries" ("The patriarchy turned them into little insects," she explains to Violet). Cynical Violet and dreamy Claire alternate as narrators, projecting distinct voices that gradually come to resemble each other. Shedding a transformative light onto the often complex, sometimes dark nature of close friendships, Block's writing is as lush and luminous, as hip and wise as ever. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Behind the glossy hipness and lush sensory detail that characterize Block's fiction, her fans will find here the sad story of the friendship between two teens. Violet remembers the tough, excited kid she was in sixth grade, the one who wanted to be president, and the one who entered junior high, became Vile, and wanted to die. Her love for movies and her passion to write screenplays save her and connect her to Claire, an ethereal poet with gauze wings sewn on the back of her shirt. They become instant friends, but the outside world intrudes. Violet is bedded by a rock star, who sends her on to a job as a girl Friday for a screen agent, who gives her the impetus to write an enormously successful screenplay, which propels her into a sickening, drug-filled world. Meanwhile, Claire enrolls in a poetry-writing class and becomes attached to the instructor, deeply disturbing Violet, who resents the loss of her friend's attention. Up to this point in the plot, the story is told in alternating sections of first-person narration. The climax and denouement, however, are even more consciously movielike, shifting to third person and focusing on the externals of the scenes in which Claire and Violet separately attend and flee a wild party, heading for the desert where they come together in the end. The sex and violence are explicit; the colors, odors, and tastes of Claire and Violet's Los Angeles world are even more distinctly described. Block's style is still light and frothy here, but there is substance within.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Violet & Claire FADE IN: The helicopter circles whirring in a sky the color of laundered-to-the-perfect-fade jeans. Clouds like the wigs of starlets-fluffy platinum spun floss. Below, the hills are covered with houses from every place and time-English Tudor manors, Swiss chalets, Spanish villas, California Craftsman. Flowers threaten to grow over their doors and windows like what happened to Sleeping Beauty's castle. Pools flash like jewels in backyards where Sleeping Beauties in sunglasses float topless, waking to sip from goblets of exotica decorated with pineapples, cherries and hibiscus blossoms. On the roads that run between the hills are shiny cars, hard-candy-colored and filled with music. This is how my movie begins. The credits floating in the pools, written on the license plates, on billboards, lighting up in neon over the bars. I am in the helicopter dressed in Gautier black and shades, pointing out the shots to the cameraman. This is how my movie begins but not my life. My life started seventeen years ago in a hospital in West L.A. There were no cameras at the event, no sign above the hospital announcing the opening of THE LIFE OF VIOLET SAMMS. Maybe there should have been. Who knows, if I got famous, I told myself, it could be very valuable to have all that on film. I knew even then that I was destined for a life of cinema. It seemed more real to me than real life, sometimes. As soon as I could walk I discovered cable and began to watch the classics. The parents could not get me away from the screen. The first word I learned was "Rosebud." I imitated Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, waltzing around the living room. I tried walking like Charlie Chaplin. When Marilyn was on I didn't do anything. I just sat there with my hands stretched out trying to touch her. Why was she just electric static? I thought she'd be as warm and silky as she looked. Now you might assume that I wanted to be an actress. But that wasn't it at all. That would have limited me. I could never have dreamed of just playing one part, saying somebody else's words, doing what they told me to do like a lovely puppet. No-I wanted to be the one to give the words, and actions, too. I started by directing my dolls, but they did not cooperate. They had none of the vivid but ephemeral essence that emanates from a real star. I could dress them certain ways and twist their bodies around into the right positions, but I was frustrated by the lack of life in their eyes. That was when I began fantasizing about real actors. The boys and girls in the neighborhood never lived up to my expectations. They got bored fast and went off to play games that I never understood. Also, they had an aversion to some of the more strenuous poses that my dolls, with all their lack of emoting ability, always complied with. Speaking of emoting-the neighborhood children weren't much better than my dolls with that. And then, most humiliating of all, they rejected me! They plotted ways to avoid me after school. I grew up alone but in the best company. Dating Cary Grant and Bogey at the revival house, hanging with Jarmusch at the art house, spending the night with Garbo and Veronica Lake on my VCR. Wondering why I couldn't find my own little Marilyn and Jimmy Dean to work with. I knew I was worthy of their talents, even then. And one day, finally, I saw her. EXT. HIGH SCHOOL QUAD: DAY She was wearing a Tinker Bell T-shirt and her hair was up on her head in a goofy blond ponytail. You could tell she had no idea she was pretty. But I knew that on film she would glow with that weird light that certain people have. I've got an eye for those things. I was working on my laptop, still trying to figure out what the script was going to be about. Of course it was going to be about me, but even I couldn't take one hundred and twenty minutes of pure Violet. We needed something. We needed a story. The proverbial "we," because so far the only one on the team was me. There was no one at school that even had a clue what I was up to. They thought I was from another planet, and maybe I am. At least they usually left me alone. The girls admired my clothes and my hair and the boys checked out my body, but none of them wanted to talk to me. They thought I was some heavily attitude-endowed bitch whose only friend was her PowerBook. Well, it was true. I didn't have many friends. Make that any. And that would have been all right as long as I could have been making movies. But for movies you need to collaborate. It is one of the laws of film, even if you are a dictator. And so, even if I didn't need any friends, I needed an actress. And there she was, sitting under the big magnolia tree with its fat white flowers, her hair up on her head in a ponytail and her scruffy Tinker Bell T-shirt and her toes poking through the holes in her Vans. It took an expert eye to recognize it in her but I recognized it-she was my star, my Miss Monroe junior, my teen queen extraordinaire, my young diva, my sweet celluloid goddess waiting to be captured on the luminous screen. I was getting ready to talk to her when this boy Steve decided to come over. Atrocious sense of timing-he could never do stand-up, let alone be a leading man. Also, he desperately needed a stylist. I tried to ignore him, but he stood there, insistent, trying to see what I was writing. "You must have the longest diary of any girl at this school. Is it about all your hot dates?" I shouldn't have indulged him but I said it wasn't a diary. "Oh, excuse me. Zine." He was trying desperately to find some hepcat credentials to whip out. It made me nauseous. "No, it's not a zine," I said patiently. "It's a screenplay." "Awesome!" he exclaimed. "Can I read it?"I bet you can guess my answer, even in the short time we've been acquainted. Unfortunately, he was not so astute. He seemed surprised and said, "If you don't ever do anything except write you'll need Prozac." This was especially not funny since in junior high I had gained notoriety from a serious bout with depression that caused me to cut my arms with razor blades. I asked him point-blank what it was that he wanted. Violet & Claire . Copyright © by Francesca Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Violet and Claire by Francesca Lia Block All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.