***Important announcement. I'm very proud to say that I can finally spell Larbalestier without having to double-check myself at JL's website. Took me long enough. Anyway, hurrah!***
From How to Ditch Your Fairy:
I have a parking fairy. I'm fourteen years old. I can't drive. I don't like cars and I have a parking fairy.
Rochelle gets a clothes-shopping fairy and is always well attired; I get a parking fairy and always smell faintly of gasoline.
In an effort to rid herself of her fairy (and hopefully get a new one) Charlie Steele has walked everywhere for the last 60 days. She's received demerit after demerit at school because she's constantly running late, but in the long run, ditching her fairy will be worth it -- or will it? (Cue some sort of music here -- something ominous but bouncy and fun, if that's even possible.)
How to Ditch Your Fairy takes place in New Avalon, a city that, according to JL's note at the beginning, isn't "in Australia or the United States of America but in an imaginary country, perhaps a little in the future, that might be an amalgam of the two". I really especially enjoyed the world-building in this one. It wasn't the focus of the novel, but it was a real strength, in that while New Avalon (both the place and the culture within it) was unfamiliar territory for me, the characters were very much at home.
All of them except Steffi, of course, who is Charlie's crush and who comes from another city. He's still wrapping his head around the different school system, the different slang and the very different culture -- not to mention the idea of real fairies. It works both ways, though -- Steffi's situation allows for more explanation of How Things Work in New Avalon, but also allows the reader to get a bit of a picture about it is viewed from the outside.
The setting also allowed for some sneaky snarkiness about celebrity worship and self-absorbed culture, which was great fun without feeling at all preachy, and it allowed Justine Larbalestier to play with language, which I think is a real talent of hers. (I still love what she did with the Australian/American voices in the Magic or Madness trilogy -- it was so effective.) The slang she created for this one is super-great fun and even more importantly, feels real. (AND there's a glossary!)
It's a light-yet-smart, way fun little story about friends and families and sports and fairies. Definitely recommended, which is a big deal coming from me -- I hardly ever like fairies who don't go in for the human sacrifice stuff!