Thursday, January 8, 2009

Currently Reading... How to Ditch Your Fairy

I thoroughly enjoyed Justine Larbalestier's newest fantasy, How to Ditch Your Fairy. It's an awesome premise--wish I'd thought of it!

Fourteen-year-old Charlie has a lot going for her. She’s a talented athlete; she attends an illustrious sports magnet school; and her crush, a new boy nicknamed Steffi, seems to like her, too. But there's one thing in Charlie's life that's not so great--she's stuck with a parking fairy. Some people are blessed with good-hair fairies. Some people have loose-change-finding fairies, or charisma fairies, or (like Charlie's mom) knowing-what-your-kids-are-up-to fairies. Charlie's friend, Rochelle, has an enviable clothes-shopping fairy, which means she always gets incredible deals. Charlie's nemesis, Fiorenze (known as "Stupid-name") has the coolest fairy of all--an all-boys-like-you fairy. Of course, that makes all the girls hate Fiorenze, but that seems like a small price to pay.

Charlie is determined to get rid of her parking fairy. She's spent half her life in cars--people are always "borrowing" her, or even kidnapping her, because having her in the car guarantees a good parking place. But getting rid of a fairy is more easily said than done!

I’m probably too literal a reader, but I couldn’t help trying to figure out analogies between Charlie’s world and ours. For instance, New Avalon is clearly New York; so what does the west coast city of Ravenna equate to? LA, maybe? Or does looking for a US equivalent make me a self-obsessed American (just as Steffi accuses the people of New Avalon with being self-obsessed)?

Another interesting thing about this novel was the slang. The kids of New Avalon have their own lingo--and it's quite easy to figure out the meanings from context. I didn't realize until I reached the end that there's a glossary of slang at the back of the book, as well as a listing of every known type of fairy.

I'm usually not much for sports books, but I could easily relate to the passion Charlie and her classmates feel for their athletic pursuits. Their belief that New Avalon Sports High is infinitely superior to other schools also rang true.

This would be a great book for a teen literature group to discuss--it's fun and lighthearted, but it also raises some good questions. It would be interesting to discuss the elevation of celebrities (known as "Ours" in New Avalon) to near-godlike status. Do we do something similar in our own society?

And what about the fairies? Would they be a blessing or a curse? If a basketball player had a blocks-every-shot fairy, would that give her an unfair advantage? Or would it be no different than one player having more innate talent or better training than another? How would you feel about having an all-boys-like-you fairy? Would you enjoy the attention--or would you constantly wonder if your boyfriend really liked you for yourself?

Lots of food for thought here.

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