How To Ditch Your Fairy

How to Ditch Your Fairy, by Justine Larbalestier (2008, Bloomsbury, 320pp).

In the future-ish city of New Avalon, just about everyone has their own fairy. 14 year old Charlie's is a parking fairy. Yep, whenever she's in a car, it will always find a prime parking spot, first try. But that sort of magic is not nice at all for a a girl who's not old enough to drive, and who hates the smell of gas and car exhaust. She longs to have a better fairy--a clothes fairy, like her friend Rochelle, or even an "every boy will like you fairy," like her non-friend, Fiorenze (her fairy has the coincidental side effect of having the opposite effect on girls). Seeing her new friend Steffi, just about the cutest guy she's ever known, falling under the spell of Fiorenze's fairy is enough to drive her over the edge.

So Charlie tries to starve her fairy off, by avoiding mechanical transportation, hoping for a better one to come replace it. She can feel her fairy getting fainter, but in the meantime, she's constantly running late, and raking up demerits at her ultra strict all sports school. And then she find herself kidnapped by the school's star water polo player, who needs her parking luck for his own possibly nefarious purposes.

Fiorenze isn't happy with her fairy either. The two desperate girls are both sure nothing could be worse than what they're stuck with, and so they hatch a plan....

This is a very fun read, with the surreal sports school setting (all sports all the time) providing a wacky background to the even greater wackiness of all the fairies. And the fairies in turn give a new and imaginative spin to the more mundane story at the heart of the book--the familier one of a teenage girl trying to cope with a hectic life, wanting to make the basketball team, wanting a cute boy to like her, and wanting her best friend's clothes fairy to work on her, too.

It seems to me, in a vague sort of way, that fairies started appearing on the little girls' book scene about 10 years or so ago, and are still going strong today. If I knew any middle grade girls who were fans of those pink books with winged thingies on their covers, who are now in 8th grade or so (the publisher suggests ages 12 and up), this is the book I'd give them as a present.

How To Ditch You Fairy
is due out in October, but you can read reviews by other people who have been enjoying their Advance Reader Copies (thanks, Bloomsbury) at Teen Book Review, Lessons from the Tortoise, at Librarilly Blond, and at Imperial Purple. And then just for kicks you can head over to Justine Larbalestier's blog, to read about her reading the reviews of her readers...

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