Don't Expect Magic
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (November 8, 2011)
Source: ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Delaney Collins doesn't believe in fairy tales. And why should she? Her mom is dead, her best friend is across the country, and she's stuck in California with "Dr. Hank," her famous life-coach father—a man she barely knows. Happily ever after? Yeah, right.
Then Dr. Hank tells her an outrageous secret: he's a fairy godmother—an f.g.—and he can prove it. And by the way? The f.g. gene is hereditary. Meaning there's a good chance that New Jersey tough girl Delaney is someone's fairy godmother.
But what happens when a fairy godmother needs a wish of her own?
At first, I didn't really like this book. I was on page 170 or so and didn't feel any "magic" so to speak of. But then, WHAM! It all made sense. Originally, I was told this book was about something totally different than I what I anticipated. (I can't help but wonder if the book's rep actually read this one or not.) I had built up this image of some hilarious fairy godmother misadventure in my mind, only to be disappointed when I realized this wasn't what the book was about. Yes, there is a f.g. element to the book. And yes, Delaney's shenanigans qualify as misadventures, but there is much more to the story.
On a deeper level, this is a very nice story of dysfunctional families and coming to terms with change. Delaney's mom died from a sudden illness, which leaves her with her father (whom she hasn't seen in many years). I think it goes without saying that there was a level of hostility felt by Delaney for a good portion of the book. Then, suddenly, the ice starts melting. I can't say exactly what element makes the melt down begin, but it's a subtle change. When I realized that change was key to the whole book, it made more sense to me. I started appreciating the deeper, larger story. The magic element was tiny and, honestly, could have been left out. I get the idea of a f.g and all, but the major point being made was the kind of stuff you find in self-help books. (Ironically enough, Delaney's dad writes self-help books. Go figure.)
As far as characters go, Delaney and Flynn are likable characters. Delaney has major sarcasm issues (and I love it). She was so sarcastic at times that it was hard for me not to laugh at loud. I could totally hear myself speaking her words. Flynn, well he's a nice guy. He's not as dreamy as some of the fellas I've read about, but he's more believable. No super hero strength or Greek god looks. Just an average Joe with a great sense of humor. Loved him. The two seem like complete opposites (did I mention that Delaney is a goth girl?), but the subtle move from I'll-stab-your-eyes-out-if-you-try-to-talk-to-me to I-can-tolerate-you-if-I-have-to to actually becoming friends (or maybe more) was a slow, believable process. I loved the ups and downs that lead them to a "happily ever after" kind of ending.
There weren't really any big surprises with the characters. You can see where everything is headed pretty early on, but it's okay. The story is well layered, so I could appreciate it for more than what the surface story was all about. Or, maybe I was reading too much into it? I dunno. If you're looking for a happy go lucky, all out fairy wand and glittery dust kind of story, don't bother with this one. You'll be disappointed. If you want a story about acceptance and surprise love, then you'll enjoy Kathy McCullough's Don't Expect Magic.