Eleven-year-old Barbie Marks's mother named her after the doll. Barbie hates her name, hates being photographed and has not-so-affectionately nicknamed her mother Crocodile because Mom's forcing her to become a beauty contestant/fashion model.
Barbie's not your average pretty girl. She's a girl with a secret pinkie-sized, magenta-haired fairy named Mab, who lives in the garden. I Was A Teenage Fairy is Francesca Lia Block's first novel since the cult classic Weetzie Bat, and through her rich, otherworldly prose she pulls off magic realism set in the horrifying glitz and glam of hipster L.A. Here, Barbie is desperately trying to become a full, unique human being instead of the plastic toy she was named after. She wants to stop being photographed and become the photographer.
Block is subtle. Through Mab's foul-mouthed, straight-talking antics, she explores subjects like body image and child sexual abuse by evoking Barbie's gentle progression into adolescence and sexual curiosity. Teenage Fairy is Barbie's story, but it's also the tale of her failed beauty queen mother and her androgynous friend Griffin Tyler, who's in love with his roommate and hides a huge well of shame inside.
In Weetzie Bat, and now in this follow-up, Block's teenagers may have all kinds of problems, but they are never victims. They maintain a firm spot in the real world, where people are queer or girls become vegetarian because they think for themselves. Forget about Sweet Valley High! We should be giving Block's books to any teenagers who feel like they don't quite fit into the crowd. However, Teenage Fairy is definitely a good bet for adults, too.