Charlie (Charlotte) lives in New Avalon, a place where many people, for no understandable reason, acquire a fairy. There are many different kinds of fairies, and you can't see them or communicate with them - in fact, Charlie's father is of the opinion that it's a ridiculous superstition, and that fairies do not exist. But Charlie knows they do. Her best friend has a clothes shopping fairy, which is totally "doos" (i.e.awesome) - whenever they go shopping, the fairy enables her to find the most amazing deals on beautiful designer clothes that always fit her perfectly (don't we all know some annoying person who has that fairy?). Fiorenza, Charlie's arch-nemesis at school, has a fairy that makes all the boys her age hopelessly besotted with her. Some people have never-miss-a-shot fairies, which enables them to do very well at Charlie's school, which specializes in sports. And she's beginning to suspect that Steffan, the hot new boy at school, has a never-get-in-trouble fairy, even though he is as sceptical about the existence of fairies as Charlie's father.
Charlie's fairy, however, is a total dud, at least as far as she is concerned. She has a parking fairy, which enables her to always find a parking spot in the most convenient place whenever she's in a car. She's only fourteen, so not only does it not help her because she can't drive, but she's forever being dragged around to other people's medical appointments and on pointless errands just so they can find a parking spot. It's infuriating. She has decided to take matters into her own hands - she's going to ditch her fairy simply by refusing to ever get into a car again. She walks everywhere, and although she's racking up demerits from being late to class, she is determined to get rid of her lame fairy no matter what - even if it means teaming up with the odious Fiorenza, whose mother knows more than anyone about fairies, not that she's telling.
What follows is a sweet and humorous tale of friendship, persistence, and self-awareness, with a dash of romance. I was puzzled by the frequent tooth-sucking, which was a bit odd, and also by the fact that her mother supposedly has a fairy that lets her know what her kids are up to, yet she was blithely unaware (or perhaps unconcerned?) about what Charlie was doing - occasionally dangerous things - throughout the book. Charlie is an admirable character who has a few important facts about life that she needs to come to terms with, and I rooted for her every step of the way. I loved her enthusiasm about sports and her unswerving dedication to achieving the goals that she set for herself (even if some of them were misguided, as she eventually figured things out and and quickly reset her sights on something more beneficial). I was excited to read this book after enjoying the Magic or Madness trilogy so much, and this one certainly lived up to my expectations. I'll be looking forward to further books by Larbalestier, who is now officially on my "I'll read whatever she writes without even reading the cover flap" list.
How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier (Bloomsbury, 2008)
Also reviewed at:
Bean Bag Books: "How to Ditch Your Fairy is a funny and charming read, and not to mention completely doos!"
Cheryl Rainfield: "The book was a great read, and made me wish for a fairy of my own."
Karin's Book Nook: "a delightful story about fairies, friendship, and first love."
B&OT reviews of other books by Justine Larbalestier:
Magic or Madness