Review: Teen Spirit – Francesca Lia Block

Release Date: February 4th 2014
Published By: Harper Teen
Pages: 234
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Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: After Julie’s grandmother passes away, she is forced to move across town to the not-so-fancy end of Beverly Hills and start over at a new school. The only silver lining to the perpetual dark cloud that seems to be following her? Clark—a die-hard fan of Buffy and all things Joss Whedon, who is just as awkward and damaged as she is. Her kindred spirit.

When the two try to contact Julie’s grandmother with a Ouija board, they make contact with a different spirit altogether. The real kind. And this ghost will do whatever it takes to come back to the world of the living.

Francesca Lia Block’s latest young adult novel is a haunting work about family, loss, love, and redemption.


Review: Julie is a loner - her whole life her only friends have been her mother and grandmother, and after the death of her grandmother, Julie’s life is thrown into turmoil. Not only dealing with the death of her grandmother, Julie finds her relationship with her mother is suffering - and the fact that her mother has a new creepy old-rocker boyfriend isn’t helping their relationship. Julie also has to deal with the fact that they have moved out of her childhood home and she has to go to a new school.

Although Julie is okay with her social standing of a loner, and since childhood has had no real desire for friends, she soon befriends geeky Clark - and this new friendship will change Julie’s life in more ways than one.

I loved Julie’s originality. Julie is basically comfortable with herself, and even before the death of her grandmother, Julie was wearing her grandmother’s old clothes (I imagine vintage-punk). I loved the fact that up until Miriam’s death, Julie was happy with her life, her relationships and even had a deep connection with her house. Naturally after her life is turned upside down, Julie wants to hold on to her old life, and the best way she can think to do this is to try to contact her grandmother through a Ouija board. But instead of contacting her grandmother, Julie contacts another ghost - one who takes her on a very unexpected journey.

I really enjoyed the “magical” element to Teen spirit. Without personally knowing too much about things that can be classified as “occult”, I found that there was just enough information regarding such aspects, such as Ouija boards, spirits, auras, Wicca etc. Enough information was provided to the reader to understand every aspect of the story, but without bombarding the reader with too much background information. I also loved the pop-culture references in this book - from Buffy and Jos Whedon to Harry Potter. I felt these references not only displayed the characters traits, but also enabled us to connect to the characters better.

There were a few moments of raised eyebrows - and these mainly surround some of the “twists” where I felt that Julie took way too long to catch on. There were also a few of these moments when it came to this very unique and somewhat twisted triangle - yes, there is a triangle - but, it is different to most triangles out there. I adored Clark - he is the perfect example of the geeky best friend who is constantly overlooked.

Teen Spirit about love, grief, learning and redemption. It is about learning to love with grief and to grieve to gain redemption. It is about learning to let go, and by doing that you can see that what you wanted all along is right in front of you. Julie’s journey in Teen Spirit is fun, confusing, interesting and adorable. Julie learns a lot of lessons throughout this book - but will she learn them before it is too late?



“Think Buffy”

“It sucks being dead”

“Why can I never say no to you?”

“Like Hogwarts?”

“And this whole thing about, ‘We can’t help you. It has to come from you. Do it yourself.’ They should be on Etsy.”

“I just miss you. I am scared. I feel really alone”

“I called for you”

What do you think?

  • Aw, this sounds remarkably awesome! I’m usually terrible with pop-culture references, because I never get them…but when I DO they’re really funny and make me remember the book better. It’s kind of a bother when the characters doesn’t catch onto the obvious twists, though. You kind of feel like shaking them! XD

    • Kristy says:

      I am sure you would get these pop-culture references Cait. There was just the right amount of them, and they were mainstream enough to be able to understand them straight away. And yes, I get the same desire to shake characters at times!

  • Desnica Kumar says:

    Ohh when I first heard about this I was really hoping it would be a fun read…I’m glad that you enjoyed it. Can’t wait to read it myself…Thanks for the review!

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