THE HANGED MAN by Francesca Lia Block


Age Range: 12 & up
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 After her father's death from cancer, Laurel returns to her toymaker's fantasy of a house beneath the ``HOLLYWOOD'' sign for an aimless round of parties and outings, most of which could be interchanged without harming the plot. Already anorexic to the point of losing her menstrual cycle, Laurel seems to be spiraling toward a sad end, driven as much by watching her best friend become a junkie and by her obsession with news about a serial rapist/killer still at large as by thoughts of her father. It is also revealed, halfway through the book, that Laurel has had an abortion. Redemption appears in the cadaverous form of Jack, a laconic character with some conventional trappings--a motorcycle, a drum kit. After several fairly nonspecific sexual encounters (including one featuring inventive uses for champagne and strawberry ice cream), Jack gets Laurel to admit that her baby's father was also her own. The admission puts her on the road to recovery (she gets her period again). Laurel's California world is anything but mundane--the book is constructed around a tarot reading and includes psychic phenomena--but Block (Missing Angel Juan, 1993, etc.) keeps readers at arm's length with a pale cast and Laurel's indifferent first-person narration. Block's usually vivid characters and daring, original vision are not much in evidence in this distant tale of a damaged teenager. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-024536-0
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994


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