by Justine Larbalestier
Bloomsbury - Young Adult/Fantasy
305 pp. incl., List of Known Fairies and Glossary
In New Avalon, everyone has a personal fairy, although not everyone believes they exist. Charlie's stuck with a parking fairy; whenever she rides in a vehicle of any kind its driver finds the perfect parking spot. A perfect nuisance is what her fairy is. Charlie doesn't even drive. Her best friend has a clothes-shopping fairy and the most hated girl in school, Fiorenze, has an all-boys-will-like-you fairy. Either of those would be preferable to a parking fairy.
Charlie has heard that to drive your fairy away, you must not give the fairy a chance to use its special magic, essentially boring the fairy so thoroughly that it decides to leave. With that in mind, Charlie's been walking everywhere for 60 days. And, she intends to keep walking until she's certain her fairy is gone, in spite of all the demerits she's racking up for arriving at her high school classes late. But, what Charlie doesn't realize is that there are consequences to changing fairies that she can't possibly anticipate.
I really had no idea what I was getting into when I grabbed How to Ditch Your Fairy off the library shelf. I've heard of Justine Larbalestier, thanks to the big cover controversy over another of her books, Liar, but I haven't read Liar and it was really just a combination of familiar author name, cute cover, serendipity and a pinch of impulse that led me to check the book out. It's the fact that I just realized the book is way overdue that's nudged me to write a review. Oops.
How to Ditch Your Fairy is charming and lively, with a heroine who is both hilarious and enchanting. She has a crush on the new boy at school and he seems interested in her when they're alone, but Fiorenze (whom she refers to as "Fiorenze Stupid-Name" because of her fancy, hyphenated last name) can't help but draw him away because of her boys-will-always-like-you-fairy. Fiorenze, as it turns out, is the only person who can help Charlie rid herself of that annoying fairy and, in the process, the strange boy who keeps kidnapping her so that he can always get a good parking spot when he needs one. Fiorenze's parents are experts on fairies. To discover the secret of how to ditch a fairy, Fiorenze and Charlie will need to work together to find a way to peek into the unpublished book her mother has written.
There is so much to How to Ditch Your Fairy that you wouldn't expect from looking at its cover. It's clever and original with surprisingly sharp writing in spite of its obvious levity. The heroine is likable and feisty -- there are plenty of unique challenges for her to deal with, some of which are so hilarious that I don't think you could have much more fun without requiring stitches. Charlie learns a few good lessons but the author doesn't bog the story down by trying too hard to make it meaningful. It's just good, clean fun. The characters in New Avalon have a private language all their own, hence the glossary, and even that little bit of lingo is a treat.
The bottom line:
A unique story, great characters and magical, clean entertainment, perfect for when you're looking for something light and humorous. I'm really going to hate taking this one back to the library. It seems like it would be an awfully fun book to keep for a reread during times I'm in need of an upper. Highly recommended.
Finally, I kept a week's worth of mailbox books together long enough to photograph!
Top to bottom:
Strangers by Taichi Yamada
Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French (ARC from Doubleday)
Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli (ARC from Crown)
The True and Authentic History of Jenny Dorset by Philip Lee Williams
The Butt Book by Artie Bennett (for review, from the author)
Strangers, Summer at Tiffany and Jenny Dorset are all swap books.
The color isn't anywhere close to reality but the background behind those books is a freshly-painted corner of my office. It'll probably continue to be an in-progress painting job for a few more weeks because my husband and I are really slow and don't work well together. I like a room to be completely empty before I paint and he likes to just toss drop-cloths over everything. I fill in every little dent and nick; he likes to just slap on paint and call the job done. It usually takes a few weeks of his paint-slapping and my convincing before everything gets moved out and we finish the job. Strange, I know, but I'm so excited about updating the office that I'm just going to Make It So. Thank you, Jean-Luc, for the inspiration.
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