Justine Larbalastier's new young adult novel How to Ditch Your Fairy is a delightful departure from her earlier Magic and Madness trilogy (itself a very fine set of books!): in New Avalon, most people have "fairies" — invisible, possibly mythological beings that confer wondrous and confounding powers on their owners.
Charlie, the book's hero, has a less-than-stellar fairy: a parking fairy that helps her find a spot no matter where she is (and no matter that she is too young to drive and cordially loathes cars on general principles). She is a high-achieving student athlete at a special, hyper-streamed, hyper-disciplined school for athletic children (other kids go to arts schools and other specialized schools), where her life is regimented to the millimetre, and where she is under constant pressure to perform.
Her world turns upside down when she meets Steffi, a young boy from a distant city whom she falls hard for. Steffi forces her to challenge her assumptions and inspires her to try out a series of ever-more-desperate move to get rid of her fairy, which she believes will solve all her problems. Of course, the harder she tries, the worse the problems get.
Larbalastier's gift for language and dialect comes through as clearly here as it did in Magic and Madness, but this book is a lot lighter, more fun, and funnier, with tons of brilliant little comedy licks arising from the interplay of different fairies in Charlie's social circle.
This is clearly marketed as a "girl book," but every kid would love to have a "fairy" that conferred some amazing power on them, no matter what the kid's sex.
How to Ditch Your Fairy at Amazon
Kids' fantasy novel blends magic with modernity – Tolkien meets Coupland