By: Justine Larbalestier
Date Finished: 01.26.12
Some people have all the luck. Or, in this world, a really great fairy such as the clothes-shopping fairy or the never-get-into-trouble fairy. (I’m most jealous of the jukebox fairy — never hear a bad song again? Sign me up!) But when you’re fourteen, can’t drive, and all your fairy can do is find the perfect parking spot, it’s easy to feel cheated. Especially when adults and school bullies carry you around (sometimes literally) as a personal parking pass.
I wanted to read something by Scott Westerfeld’s wife because through his website I read a lot of her advise. I take a lot of her advise. I thought it was time to see it in action. This one had a funny title, so it became my starting point.
The story is light and fun, but not fluff. Charlie is a rather typical high school freshman who manages to be an atypical protagonist. The fairies contribute to the high school drama, but they are a more permanent, more personal sort of irritation. And while Charlie is a teenage girl with many complaints, she is absolutely determined to make things better for herself. So the parking fairy is the root of all her problems? Get rid of it. So no one knows how to get a new fairy? Charlie will find a way, with or without assistance.
Larbalestier has the same knack for inventing slang as her husband, strengthened by the book’s only character from a different city, Stefan. He uses his strange West Coast slang — words like “excellent” and “bummer.” Making his voice match ours is a stroke of brilliance and hilarity. Unfortunately, the new slang is undermined by a glossary in the back. Bummer.
My favorite little trick Larbalestier uses is the list of tallies at the beginning of each chapter. The first chapter starts with this —
Days walking: 60
Conversations with Steffi: 5
Each chapter, the list expands or changes to fit the action. Also, it’s a nifty, sneaky way to keep track of the timeline. Small things like that keep the book from being just-another-high-school-drama and make it something fresh.
At the end of the day: For my younger self.