Allison's Book Bag

My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

Posted on: December 3, 2011

I like teen romance, in small doses. The smarter those romances are, the more likely I am to pick up the author’s next book. If you throw fantasy into the mix, well, that’s like stirring peanut butter cups into a gooey dish of caramel chocolate ice-cream. My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison is a funny teen fantasy romance with morals to boot. What a delicious treat!

The basic premise of My Fair Godmother is nothing new: Girl is dumped by Boy; Girl feels rejected; Girl chases new Boy. Even if Girl is dumped by Boy because Boy started dating Girl’s sister, it’s an old story. I didn’t even particularly care for the handling of the sister’s betrayal: Jane meets Hunter; He finds her sister Savannah prettier and doesn’t know that Jane exists; Jane overhauls her image and now of course Hunter notices her. At this point, I almost shut the book. Hollywood movies would have teenage girls  believe that if only the homely girl would remove her glasses, every guy would swoon. Was Rallison going to fall into that superficial trap? Rallison even tosses out this observation: “Adults are always telling teenagers that it’s what’s on the inside that matters. It’s always painful to find out that adults have lied to you.” If the prologue hadn’t been written by a hip and young fairy godmother in training, who apparently is terrible at her craft, Rallison might have lost me as a reader. Even when Jane turns into a jerk and so the story instead becomes all about how Savannah needs a new boyfriend, I kept reading. Once I got past this bumpy start, Rallison won me over as a fan.

See, my above criticism aside, Rallison is one smart author. Through the guise of the three wishes that Savannah is granted by her godmother, Rallison imparts blunt truths about love. The rules of the wishes are they must pertain directly to Savannah and must be tangible. In other words, Savannah can’t wish to be lucky, popular, or even happy. Therein, lies the conundrum. Savannah’s first thought is to ask for Hunter fall back in love with her, but she is smart enough to know that winning Hunter back only with magic won’t make her truly happy. What Savannah really wants is for someone to love her whole package—even if that means a boy accepting that sometimes Savannah will be late, disorganized, or lazy. How does Savannah put that into a wish? She tries, but as is so often the case with wishes, they do not go according to plan. She wishes for her life to be like a fairy tale with a handsome prince waiting for her at the ball and that “everything will work out happily ever after”. The next moment she finds herself in a cold, dark room, and learns that she is Cinderella. Complete with a cruel step family. And back in medieval times where indoor plumbing doesn’t yet exist, nor does soap. There’s more. Savannah has to do chores. Oh, and her so-called Prince Charming is a tyrant who hangs people who rebel against poverty. When her godmother responds to Savannah’s distress calls, Savannah receives a full dose of life’s lessons. Savanna didn’t want to work like Cinderella for eight months? Well, how else could a prince rescue her from a dreary life? Savannah didn’t want a cruel tyrant? Well, the reality is that Savannah fell for Hunter solely based on looks. Then why did she prioritize good looks and say nothing about personality? As for happiness, that is entirely up to Savannah. Rallison never holds back any punches with her morals, but she also wraps them up so creatively in the disastrous outcomes of Savannah’s wishes that the lessons feel like logical outcomes in a riveting story.

Of course, it also helps that Rallison’s laces her love story with humor and fantasy. Some of the humor lies in Savannah’s attitude. When talking about Tristan (you had to know there would be a second boy), she says he would’ve been completely overlooked in high school if not for his athleticism “that he may have acquired by running away from bullies”. Some of the humor lies in the scrapes that Savannah finds herself in. Before her fair godmother shows up, Savannah heads to a swim party with her best friend. Still reeling from the throws of rejection, Savannah wears a bikini to remind guys of her existence. As she saunters up to the diving board, Savannah realizes too late there might have been an advantage to wearing a full-piece suit. Primarily, it wouldn’t fall off her body when she hits the water. In a less talented author’s hands, this humorous scene could’ve flopped. Rallison instead makes this a riot, by having Savannah unable to see without her contacts, then having the life guard ordering her to clear the dive area, and finally having Tristan calling out within the hearing of everyone in the pool: “She’ll just be a second. Her bikini top came off!”

As for the fantasy, you already know there’s a godmother. There’s also a leprechaun, a wizard and an apprentice with potions and poisons to sell, a Cyclops that Tristan needs to fight, and a mysterious black knight. Some of these magical creatures are nothing like the ones you might know from fairy tales. Case in point, Savannah’s godmother Chrissy is a teenage girl decked out in a tank top, miniskirt, knee-high boots, and sunglasses. Oh, and did I mention that her hair is cotton candy pink and matches not only her purse but her nails? Also, Chrissy cares more about malls than magic, which is why she so easily botches her spells and takes what seems like forever to respond to Savannah’s distress calls. Others creatures such as the leprechaun resemble the traditional depiction and thus it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the leprechaun in this book cares desperately for his gold. For the most part, Rallison stays faithful to the original fairy tales into which she dumps Savannah. Even when she departs from them for literary purposes, they never left me with the bad taste some other fractured tales have. For this feat, I also commend her!

I love fantasy, in big doses. Whether it comes in the form of humor, romance, or another genre, I’m going to try it. Yet while my love of fantasy might mean I’ll pick it off the shelves more often, an author still needs to be smart for me to seek out more of their books. Janette Rallison is, in so many ways. She might even be my new author find, meaning keep watch for more reviews—and hopefully an interview.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read it.

How would you rate this book?

PS Don’t forget to check out my Rallison poll!

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