Saturday, February 12, 2011

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

How to Ditch Your Fairy
by Justine Larbalestier
Copyright 2008
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the secret of how to ditch a fairy, Fiorenze and Charlie will need to work together to find a way to peek into the unpublished book her mother has written.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.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I've heard all sorts of things about Liar, but this is the first time I'm hearing about How to Ditch Your Fairy. Sounds like a good one to have on hand to squeeze in between all the depressing books I'm always reading. Great review!

  2. What a charming book - I'm convinced that it's worth putting on my library request list. However; I will get the late fines ready in advance!!

    Maybe I missed your review of Radio Shangri-La while I was have you liked it?? I saw some articles about it on and on NPR. Worth reading?

    It's 77 here today and slated to be 78 tomorrow. I can hardly believe we were frozen last weekend!!

  3. Hm, I haven't heard about either books, Liar or this one. This one sounds interesting - I think I'll add it to my ILL spreadsheet.

  4. Megan,

    Same here - I hadn't heard a thing about How to Ditch Your Fairy. If not for Liar and the big controversy over that cover, it might have taken me a very long time to find this author and book, so I guess the whole big thing had some definite benefits (hopefully a positive effect in the business of cover creation, as well).

    Oh, yes, it's a real upper. If you read a lot of depressing books it's a great one to wedge in between two of them. And, thank you. :)

    Inside a Book,

    I didn't mean to hold onto it long enough to get fined! I like to keep a book in the house till I review, though, and I lingered a little too long. It's a really fun book.

    Nope, you didn't miss anything! I just got Radio Shangri-La, yesterday. I am really anxious to read it, but I've got quite a ridiculous number of February releases I've yet to even start reading, so it'll be a while. You should see a lot of reviews soon, though. I noticed TLC Book Tours is going to be featuring it as one of their tour books.

    70-75 is about my upper limit and then I start getting grumpy. I've always said I don't belong in the Deep South (although I'm fine with dry heat) but God apparently has a sense of humor.

  5. Library Girl,

    Wow, you missed all the hoopla about the Liar cover? It was really something. The first cover depicted a white heroine and the heroine in the book has . . . I can't remember if she's just described as "dark-skinned" or she's mixed race or what, but the author was unhappy with the cover and there was an uproar amongst book book bloggers, authors and twitterers from both camps, which eventually did help to sway the publisher and resulted in a new cover that was more accurate to the heroine. I think I'm actually more interested in fairies than the topic of Liar, but I'll eventually read it because my interest was piqued.

  6. I just looked up some articles on the Liar cover controversy - yeah, I totally missed out on it, although I've followed other similar cover controversies.

  7. Library Girl,

    I was twittering regularly, at the time (now, I hardly ever remember to visit Twitter) so it was kind of a noisy controversy from where I sat. But, I'm sure they all have been at some point and I've missed most of them!

  8. My daughter has read "How to Ditch your Fairy" and loved it. We still joke about how I must have the red light fairy when I'd rather have the green light fairy.

  9. Anne,

    LOL A green light fairy would be a very fine thing to have! I think I've got a sneezing fairy. I was hoping a real winter would kill it off, but I guess 2 months of winter is just not enough.

  10. i *just* saw summer at tiffany while at B&N last week! the premise was so enchanting but my arms were filled with other books so i didn't buy it. seeing it in your pile leaves me feeling rueful. enjoy the reads and let me know if you like summer--i love memoirs.

  11. Nat,

    I love memoirs, too. I'm thinking Tiffany will be a good summer read, so hopefully I'll have it read by July or so. :)

    " . . . but my arms were filled with other books . . ."

    Ooooh, that is such a lovely word picture!! I've been moving books out of my office and I've managed to fill two bags with discards but they're so, so pretty and I just adore a stack of books. I can't imagine that I'll ever be one of those people who part with all of their books in lieu of the electronic version.

  12. That book sounds hysterical!!

  13. This book sounds like so much fun, and a lot different than most of the other faerie books out there right now. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed this one, and you know, I think I would enjoy it too. I am off to see if I can find a copy of this one. Thanks for the wonderful review!

  14. Tristi,

    Hey there! Long time no see! It's loads of fun, Tristi. I might have to buy a copy for my home library. :)


    Yes, I think it's the most light-hearted fairy book I've found, probably because it's really about the humans, not the fairies (which tend to have a mean streak, don't they?).

  15. I'll probably read this eventually. Fun review!

  16. Kelly,

    I think you'll like it. It's a nice, light read that's a little quirky. Definitely a good book when you need a pick-me-up. :)


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