Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: My Unfair Godmother by Jannette Rallison (Whitney Finalist)

Title: My Unfair Godmother
Author: Jannette Rallison
Enjoyment Rating: 8/10
Referral: Whitney Finalist
Source: Library copy
Books I've read this year: 28

A couple of years ago, Jannette Rallison's My Fair Godmother was a Whitney Finalist. I thought it was a decent book, but I wasn't in love with it. So I went into reading My Unfair Godmother, its sequel, with a certain guardedness. But I'm pleased to say that the book surprised me in lots of good ways. Just like in My Fair Godmother, Chrysanthemum Everstar, a fairy in training, picks an unsuspecting teenage girl to give three wishes and set her life on course. Chrissy is a pretty horrible excuse for a fairy godmother-- she gets things wrong, she doesn't show up when she should, and she has an attitude. In this book she tries to turn the life of Tansy Miller around, and she does this first by bringing Robin Hood and his Merry Men to the 21st century, and then by sending Tansy and her family back to the 12th century in order to meet up with Rumplestiltskin. There's a lot of humor and hijinks and just the right amount of romance.

I'm not sure why I liked this book significantly better than the first, but I think it might have to do with two things-- sequel fatigue, and having a daughter. First of all, I'm a fair bit of the way into the Whitney reading (13 down, 22 to go-- doesn't sound so great when I put it that way) and I've read a lot of books so far that are sequels or set up sequels. And in order to get the most out of those books, it's essential to start at the beginning and commit yourself to the whole series. What I really like about My Unfair Godmother is that it's more like Quantum Leap than it is like LOST. I did read the first book, but everything I needed to know about Chrissy and Tansy is included in this volume. Chrissy helped someone else (completely unrelated to Tansy) in book one, and if there's a book three, I'm sure it will be with a whole different cast of characters. I'm sure a publisher would give you a million reasons why you want to suck readers into as many books as possible, but as a reader, I appreciate being given the opportunity to decide whether I want to commit to the next volume.

In the time that's elapsed since I read My Fair Godmother, my own daughter has gone from age seven to age ten. Back then she was reading Junie B. Jones, and now she's right on the cusp of reading books like this. And I know that she would adore this book, if not now, then in a few years. There's enough depth and gravitas from Tansy's situation and the way she looks at life to counterbalance Chrissy's fluff, enough romance without it being icky (okay, maybe a little icky in the last few chapters, but icky in a way I think my daughter might like). I always like coming into books like My Unfair Godmother because it's one that I'll file away on my mental shelf for when Annie comes to me complaining about how deathly bored she is.

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