I read Violet & Claire by Francesca Lia Block, a YA novel about two girls who's friendship is threatened by the lifestyles they lead in the hard world of Los Angeles' show business. Violet is obsessed with writing a screenplay based on her life and creating a movie. Claire is a vulnerable loner who believes she's a faerie. Love. Betrayal. Loyalty.
I found this book at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley. The book was on a shelf for used books. The pages were marked up in green and red pen. Comments. Underlines. Circles. What was the previous owner doing with Lia Block's book? Class assignment. Writing exercise. Personal salvation.
I imagined a life for this book prior to falling into my hands.
The cover is worn, pages creased, spine split. The reader perches on a school planter, underlining "I asked if she was new to our lovely local prison" and scribbling the note "school prison" in green pen. She realizes, yes that's what this place feels like. The reader is in prison and needs to adapt to wait out her sentence, her crime not being in the cool crowd.
Another reader slumps in a library, groaning at the paper due about this damn book. He underlines "...like fallen stars trying to get back home" and writes "simile" in the margin. Who cares, he wonders. Two crazy girls. He'd never date them. Still, this Claire thought Violet was sleeping with this guy she likes and everything went to the shit. He sits up straight and determines to stop his own affair before his girlfriend finds out.
The last reader hugs the book like a talisman, a charm to ward off fetid hatred. Her best friend has been writing love letters to her boyfriend, hiding in the library. Says he a book report due. She strides across the quad to confront her friend curled up on a planter box, writing in a book. The same book she has. Violet & Claire.
The year ends. The book is tossed in a donation bin. Humidity curls the corners. The ink bleeds. It's stacked with other discards, weight crushing. Oily fingerprints mar the cover. It passes from storage to storage until the big day of the Bay Area Book Festival. Violet & Claire is shelved, breathing Berkeley air and waits.
Waits to be chosen.
Do you know where your book has been?