What I've Read This Week . . .
How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier, Read by Kate Atkinson -- Contemporary/Fantasy Young Adult
Fourteen-year-old Charlie is a B-string sports student at New Avalon Sports High. She loves the sports, the rules and the new cute boy, Steffi. She also has a long list of things she dislikes about her life: growing "spoffs" (boobs), not being tall enough or good enough to make the basketball team, not knowing if the cute boy likes her, and the #1 thing that's "torpid" about her life - her car-parking fairy. In New Avalon, everyone has a fairy with a particular attribute. The fairies are invisible, but they manifest their power at the best and worst of times. Charlie's best friend Rochelle has a clothes shopping fairy -totally "doos"! Charlie's mom has a "always knowing what your kids are up to" fairy - totally "malodorous"! Charlie has a car-parking fairy which often results in her being "borrowed" by people to ensure the perfect parking spot. Charlie hates cars, she hates the smell of petrol and she hates it when people borrow her. Why can't she have a doos fairy like Ro or an "every boy will like you" fairy like her rival Fiorenze? It's totally not fair. So Charlie sets out to ditch her fairy. She thinks walking everywhere will do the trick and even when it gets her into trouble, she decides it's totally worth it to be rid of such an "injured" fairy. When her plans go awry, Charlie gets desperate to be rid of her fairy. She'll do ANYTHING to ditch her fairy, even if it means becoming allies with Fio, whose parents are fairy experts. Desperate times call for desperate measures and Charlie will go to any lengths to finally ditch her fairy. This is an odd mix of contemporary teen fiction and fantasy. It's set in a fictional world that's a sort-of cross between the U.S. and Australia, but I think more Australia. It's also a bit futuristic and fantastical. The world is described so well that it feels real. I liked the funny slang words but had a hard time understanding Kate Atkinson's Australian accent and the glossary would have been much appreciated had I known it was there. Charlie is a typical teen with a teenager's view of the world. Her problems are very real - both in a sense of being real for our world and being very real to her. At first I liked the way she dealt with her problems and thought she handled them well, but then she gets desperate and acts more her age. She learns a few lessons but not as many as I had hoped. I didn't really like the ending because I felt it wasn't deserved. The story lags a bit until near the end when it gets so crazy that I felt like I didn't want to read it because I knew that Charlie was going to make a mess of things. It's funny at times and very honest and real. It's a nice, lighthearted read that I would recommend to teenagers but not so much for adults. Kate Atkinson has a nice voice and she's able to pitch her voice differently for the different characters and make them distinguishable from one another, though her accent is hard to understand. I would also suggest the print version to go along with the audio so you know how to pronounce all the names and slang words but have the handy-dandy glossary to reference.