How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier
When I was in high school (back in the dark ages known as the late 90s), there were two special programs for gifted high-school students here in Virginia Beach (yay IB!). By the time I graduated from college and moved back here, almost every high school had some specialty; legal studies, fine arts, marine science, global studies... Personally, I thought it was a bit over the top -- I mean, should 13 and 14 year-olds really have to specialize?... but I digress.
In Justine Larbalestier's fictional world of New Avalon, the high schools are even more specialized, and 14-year-old Charlie attends the sports high school, taking classes in subjects like public relations, sports accounting, and, of course, a variety of sports including cricket and basketball (Charlie's favorites).
There are a few other things that are a bit weird about the citizens of New Avalon -- such as the way they worship their celebrities, the way they never even think about what might go on in other cities (a nod to insularity of the US, perhaps?), and, most importantly, the fact that many people have fairies.
Charlie's fairy, for instance, is a parking fairy, which helps her to get the best parking space (not very useful, since she can't even drive). Her best friend Rochelle, on the other hand, has a shopping fairy that helps her get the best deals. Charlie, being driven crazy by her fairy, decides to do whatever it takes to get rid of it.
While the story is a bit predictable at times, How to Ditch Your Fairy is light and fun, and was a wonderful distraction on my flight to New York last month. The world that Larbalestier has created is recognizable, but just different enough to make the reader want to go exploring (sequels perhaps? about students at some of the other high schools?). And the Shakespearean-ish slang is genius (e.g. a hot guy is referred to as "pulchry" -- short for pulchritudinous).
Definitely recommended, for middle school and older (I wish this book had been around when I was in middle school!).
Readers may also enjoy other titles about unusual high schools:
I'd Tell You I Love You but then I'd Have to Kill You and Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter (a spy school)
Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart (an arts high school)
I know there are others, but none are coming to mind. Feel free to add any in the comments?
Around the blogs:
Emily Reads, The Compulsive Reader, Reviewer X, YA New York, Bildungsroman, The Ravenous Reader, Bookshelves of Doom, Reading Rants!, The Book Muncher, Kits Lit, Librarilly Blonde