I Was a Teenage Fairy

I Was a Teenage Fairy

by Francesca Lia Block

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Overview

Maybe Mab was real. Maybe not. Maybe Mab was the fury. Maybe she was the courage. Maybe later on she was the sex . . .

A tiny fairy winging her way through the jasmine-scented L.A. night. A little girl caught in a grown-up glitz-and-glitter world of superstars and supermodels. A too beautiful boy with a secret he can never share . . .

From the author of Weetzie Bat comes a magical, mesmerizing tale of transformation. This is the story of Barbie Marks, who dreams of being the one behind the Cyclops eye of the camera, not the voiceless one in front of it; who longs to run away to New York City where she can be herself, not some barley flesh-and-blood version of the plastic doll she was named after. It is the story of Griffin Tyler, whose androgynous beauty hides the dark pain he holds inside. And finally it is the story of Mab, a pinkie-sized, magenta-haired, straight-talking fairy, who may or may not be real but who helps Barbie and Griffin uncover the strength beneath the pain, and who teaches that love—like a sparkling web of light spinning around our bodies and our souls—is what can heal even the deepest scars.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064408622
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/28/2000
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 4.50(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.53(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Francesca Lia Block, winner of the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award, is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling books, including Weetzie Bat; the book collections Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books and Roses and Bones: Myths, Tales, and Secrets; the illustrated novella House of Dolls; the vampire romance novel Pretty Dead; and the gothic werewolf novel The Frenzy. Her work is published around the world.

Read an Excerpt

Part One

Barbie & Mab

If Los Angeles is a woman reclining billboard model with collagen-puffed lips and silicone-inflated breasts, a woman in a magenta convertible with heart-shaped sunglasses and cotton candy hair; if Los Angeles is this woman, then the San Fernando Valley is her teenybopper sister. The teenybopper sister snaps big stretchy pink bubbles over her tongue and checks her lip gloss in the rearview mirror, causing Sis to scream. Teeny plays the radio too loud and bites her nails, wondering if the glitter polish will poison her. She puts her bare feet up on the dash to admire her tan legs and the blond hair that is so pale and soft she doesn't have to shave. She wears a Val Surf T-shirt and boys' boxer shorts and she has a boy's phone number scrawled on her hand. Part of her wants to spit on it and rub it off, and part of her wishes it was written in huge numbers across her belly, his name in gang letters, like a tattoo. The citrus fruits bouncing off the sidewalk remind her of boys; the burning oil and chlorine, the gold light smoldering on the windy leaves. Boys are shooting baskets on the tarry playground and she thinks she can smell them on the air. And in her pocket, whispering secrets about them, is a Mab.

Maybe Mab was real. Maybe there really are girls the size of pinkies with hair the color of the darkest red oleander blossoms and skin like the greenish-white underbellies of calla lilies.

Maybe not. Maybe Mab was the fury. Maybe she was the courage. Maybe later on she was the sex. But it doesn't matter if Mab is real or imagined, Barbie thought, as long as I can see her. As long as I can feel hersitting on my palm, ticklish as a spider, as long as I can hear the cricket of her voice. Because without her then how would I be able to ever go inside?

Inside was carpeted in shag–lime green and baby blue, scratchy and synthetic, creeping insidiously over the floors and even up onto the sink counters and toilet seats in the bathroom. It was a kitchen with cows stenciled on the walls and real cows roasting in the oven. It was pictures of Barbie's mother when she was a young beauty queen contestant and model, flashing big teeth like porcelain bullets. It was Barbie's mother now, jingling with gold chains and charms, big-haired, frosted, loud enough to scare away even the bravest pinkie-sized girls.

Sometimes Barbie's mother came outside, too, to yank her daughter by one skinny arm from under a bush and pull leaves out of hair that was green from swimming too long in the chlorinated pool.

That day, Barbie had been lying there calling for Mab who was being especially obstinate and refusing to make an appearance.

"Barbie! We're going to be late! What are you doing?"

Barbie's mother was wearing her oversized white plastic designer sunglasses and a gold and white outfit. Her perfume made Barbie's head spin in a different and more nauseating way than when she and Mab attempted to get a buzz from sniffing flowers or when they spun in circles to make themselves dizzy.

"Oh my God! You're a mess! And we have to be there in forty-five minutes."

"Where?" Barbie asked her mother's tanned cleavage as she was dragged into the avocado-colored stucco house for grooming.

The agency was over the canyon in Beverly Hills. It had high ceilings, vast glass walls and enormous artwork depicting lipsticks and weapons. To Barbie, it seemed like a palace for the Giants. The Giants were the ones she had nightmares about. It was not that she was so afraid of them hurting her. The thing that made her wake sweating and biting herself with terror was that in the dream she was huge and heavy and bloated and tingling and thick.

She was one of them.

The agency was where the Giants would live.

Barbie wished Mab had come with her. But Mab never left the backyard. She said she was afraid of getting squashed. Barbie assumed that the fact Mab never went anywhere with her was proof that Mab was probably real. Otherwise, Barbie would definitely have imagined her here now.

The agent had a stretched, tanned face, like a saddle.

"Well, you certainly are pretty, Barbie," he said.

"Thank you," said Barbie's mother.

"What do you think of a career in modeling?"

"She's thrilled. She wants to be just like Mommy."

Barbie had noticed the plant when she walked in. It was the only thing in the glass and metal room that she wanted to touch. She got up and went over to it; she always examined plants. You never knew–maybe there were more girls like Mab waiting to be discovered, and in this case, rescued.

"You know I won Miss San Fernando Valley in 19 . . . well let's just say, I was a winner! Not that you'd guess it now!" Barbie's mother patted her hairdo and eyed the agent hopefully.

Barbie patted the agent's plant. There were no Mabs on it. But even Mabless, it was the most friendly thing in the room.

"Well, you certainly have a very lovely daughter, Mrs. Markowitz."

"Marks," said Barbie's mother.

Barbie, still stroking a leaf, turned to look at her.

"What's that?" asked the agent.

"Mrs. Marks."

"I thought it said . . ." The agent spryly shuffled some papers on his desk. He had long, tan, hairy arms and surprisingly small wrists for a medium-sized man.

"That was a typo," Mrs. Marks said. She noticed Barbie and her plant. "What are you doing over there! Come sit back down."

Barbie obediently left her Mabless plant friend and went back to her chair. Mrs. Marks (Marks? Barbie thought) folded her hands tightly in her lap, wiggled her rear end into the chair and glared at her daughter. Barbie folded her hands and wiggled her rear. Mrs. Marks smiled at the agent. Barbie smiled.

The plant, which had never seen a Mab, let alone been examined for one or housed one in its leaves, might have sighed silently from its corner when Barbie Markowitz-now-Marks left.

I Was A Teenage Fairy. Copyright © by Francesca Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Reading Group Guide

Introduction:

In I Was a Teenage Fairy, novelist Francesca Lia Block crafts a postmodern fairy tale that is, at once, as grim as Grimm and as hopeful as Cinderella. Set in a make-believe L.A. world of movie stars and young models, this coming-of age novel explores the difficult intersection of fantasy and reality. Francesca Lia Block creates a world that is a breathtaking mix of fairy tale magic and gritty reality. To those who only see her picture in magazines, the life of young model Barbie Marks is the stuff that fantasies are made of. But as Block artfully reveals, the reality of Barbie's life is more nightmare than wish-fulfilling dream. From victimization by her domineering mother to rejection by her physically present but emotionally absent father to a shattering encounter with a sexually predatory fashion photographer, Barbie's is a fractured existence. The only thing that keeps it from falling entirely to pieces is the presence of Mab, a "teenage girl–thing…the size of most teenage girl's littlest fingers." Is Mab real or imagined? It makes no difference to Barbie, "as long," she tells herself, "as I can see her."

In fact, until Part II of this lushly lyrical novel, Barbie is the only one who CAN see Mab with her gauzily transparent wings and poison red hair. But then Barbie falls in love with actor Todd Range and meets his friend and roommate, beautiful Griffin Tyler, who has a heart full of secrets that will challenge Barbie to find herself, and that will bring a suddenly visible Mab flying to the rescue.

Question For Discussion:

  1. Why are Griffin and Damian able to seeMab? Are there other people in the book who have had a Mab in their lives? If so, why?
  2. Mrs. Marks complains to her husband, "you never say a word to Barbie." [p. 41] Why do you think he is so silent? And why is he so cold to her when Barbie encounters him in Part II? [pp. 81– 83]
  3. As an eleven-year-old, Barbie thinks that talking to Mab is a lot like talking to herself. How are the two characters alike? And how are they different?
  4. Todd comments on how much alike Barbie and Griffin are. In what ways do you think they are alike? How are they different?
  5. Do you think the author intends Mab to be real or imagined? Does it make any difference?
  6. How do Barbie's and Griffin's respective encounters with Hamilton Waverly change their lives?
  7. Why does Barbie dream of going to New York?
  8. The author describes Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and New York as women. Why do you think the author chooses this device? Is it effective?
  9. Discuss the significance of cameras in this book. Why does Barbie want to become a photographer?
  10. Does Barbie forgive her mother too readily? What do you think Mrs. Marks was like as a girl? What do you think Barbie will be like when she is her mother's age?
  11. I Was a Teenage Fairy is a work of magic realism. What does that phrase mean to you as a reader? In addition to the character of Mab, are there other magical elements in the book? How does the author mix magic and reality? Could this book be described as a modern fairy tale?

About The Author:

Francesca Lia Block nurtured by a painter/filmmaker father and a poet mother, wrote most of her first novel, Weetzie Bat, while she was studying at the University of California–Berkley. Since then, Block has written four Weetzie sequels--Witch Baby, Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Missing Angel Juan, and Baby Be Bop. Like Weetzie, all have received high praise and prestigious awards. Ms. Block is also the author of The Hanged Man and Girl Goddess #9. Francesca Lia Block lives in Los Angeles, California.

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I Was a Teenage Fairy 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this awhile back, and I picked it up recently and loved it again. Francesca Lia Block writes in a style similar to David Levithan, whom I'm convinced is the reincarnation of Christ. The way she crafts Mab as being sort of a constant and a variable at the same time--the fact that Barbie questions Mab's existence but at the same time Mab guides her life--was painfully clever. I also liked that the name Mab was taken from a fairy in Shakespeare.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book! It was so absorbing that I read it in one night! It has such beautiful poetic writing and such a deep meaning. I wish I had a Mab! And I wish every girl would read this book! It is so good!
Anonymous 9 months ago
I Was A Teenage Fairy touches on subjects most people avoid like sexual harassment and ptsd and other psychological illnesses, but still finding beauty in this ugly world. Shows the importance of standing up for yourself even if it takes forever to work through the pain. And Block shows that the loveliness and magic of sex is still able to be experienced by those who know the horror of molestation. Beautiful and magical.
etznab on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very difficult book to describe, both in terms of story and writing style. The language is vivid and engaging. But the writing also suffers from odd transitions and poorly explains the passage of time. The main character, Barbie is very shallow and I think it's difficult for the reader to feel empathy in anything more than a vague generality.
benuathanasia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really don't know how to most accurately describe Block's writing, so I'll write from my gut. Block's writing is like cocaine. Initially, all reasonable instincts tell me that the writing is not good. Once that reaction has passed, my brain says "Hmmm...let's just see where this goes." Pretty soon, the little voices tell me I have to keep going, I could never forgive myself if I stopped...I... NEED...MORE!!! After I'm done with that, I keep going back to the library, for more...and more...and MORE!!! Four years after I have kicked the Block habit, I still don't know what possessed me to read everything of Block's I could get my hands on. I don't remember particularly enjoying it, but I do remember that Block single-handedly helped get me through the roughest portions of high school. Now, I know that my review is something of a back-handed compliment, but I will say this for Block; she is exceptionally imaginative and a vibrantly visual artist.
megpyre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't love this book at all. that being said i read it in two days and was 15 minutes late to work because i was sitting in my car reading the end of it. i felt the story was there, but the story telling didn't do it for me. i don't regret the time i spent reading it, but certainly will not pick it up again.
Jenson_AKA_DL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Have you ever read a book that made you feel simultaneously both happy and sad at the end? This may be the first that accomplished it for me. This story is one told on different levels; one very true and traumatic and the other, supernatural, dreamlike and hopeful. Not many stories could pull it off but this one does it.On the surface this is a story about a girl named Barbie (yes, after the doll) whose mother's only dream is for her daughter to become the successful model she had failed to be. Just as Barbie's childhood feelings of aloneness become overwhelming, she discovers a new, if diminutive, fairy friend named Mab. This is not your average innocent fairy tale. What has happened to the characters is unsettling and the repercussions are dealt with in a realistic manner, especially considering the vocations of the primary characters and the atmosphere they are in. These scenes are not presented gratuitously and really have meaning in the plot of the book.I didn't really get the parts describing the cities as various types of women...well, I did in the beginning, but not so much closer to the end of the book. I did like all the characters from the melancholy Barbie and Griffin to the wisecracking Mab and even Todd whose sincerity I sometimes had to question. However, even though I liked them I still felt a little distanced from them. This could have been in part due to the dreamy and rather disconnected feeling that prevails throughout the book. Although I usually like to feel more personally involved with a book's characters, in this case it was kind of a relief considering the type of trauma the book deals with. I'm not really sure I would have felt comfortable with having any stronger feelings drawn from me. As one last thought on the book I would have to say that I know that this is a fantasy, but it is a rather comforting thought that there could be Mabs available for all those children that need them. Not a book I¿d suggest for tweens but a good one for mature and older teens.
faerielibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Barbie, named after the doll and forced to live in her image by her overbearing, over tanned stage-mother. Barbie, after wishing on a picture of the girls who photograph a fairy to see one herself, meets Mab, a spunky, crabby, opionated fairy who flits around Barbie throughout the novel. Mab is the only thing Barbie has to give her her stength, as her father is nonexistant even when he was around, and her mother just tells her that 'bad things sometimes happen' when she is molested by her headshot photographer. This book is heavy and harsh but there is a layer of fairydust sparkling on top of all of the city grime. In this fairytale ending, Barbie gets a new name and no longer lives as her mother's doll.
thioviolight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by Block that I read, and it caught my eye because of the beautiful cover. I'm so glad I did! This certainly wasn't the type of YA fiction I read when I was at that age, and I'm sorry I never read books like this. However, I'm really happy to discover Block's fiction, since they paint a different and truer world of young adults, even as she indulges in the fantastic. Wonderful!
hoosgracie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Barbie, a young girl, has a mother hell bent on Barbie being a model. Barbie doesn¿t have much interest in it and a fairy named Mab helps her cope with her mother and the bad things that happen. Heartbreaking.
feminist_prof on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This not only deals with sexuality, but body image, sexual abuse, and survival. Again, Block outdoes herself.
teharhynn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very interesting story about being sexually assaulted as a child. This book didn't have quite the same writing style as wasteland, but it was still very interesting.
mcgarry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yr. 9 - Yr. 10. Maybe Mab was real. Maybe not. Maybe Mab was the fury. Maybe she was the courage. A tiny fairy winging her way through the jasmine-scented L.A. night. A little girl caught in a grown-up glitz-and-glitter world of superstars and supermodels. A too beautiful boy with a secret he can never share... This is the story of Barbie Marks, who dreams of being the one behind the Cyclops eye of the camera, not the voiceless one in front of it; who longs to run away to New York City where she can be herself, not some barley flesh-and-blood version of the plastic doll she was named after. It is the story of Griffin Tyler, whose androgynous beauty hides the dark pain he holds inside. And finally it is the story of Mab, a pinkie-sized, magenta-haired, straight-talking fairy, who may or may not be real but who helps Barbie and Griffin uncover the strength beneath the pain, and who teaches that love--like a sparkling web of light spinning around our bodies and our souls--is what can heal even the deepest scars.
MyndiL More than 1 year ago
First of all, this book may pose some trigger issues for some people. Please be aware that there are some themes that are not explained thoroughly, but still might cause some emotional distress. That out of the way, I found it interesting that this book used the fairy as a way of helping certain kids cope with things that were too much for them. An overly controlling mother, or a distant father, and of course, the themes mentioned above. Mab helps the humans she connects with to get brave and stand up for themselves and even to move on with their lives. The only criticism I have, is that it read rather choppy. I had trouble sometimes figuring out what had just happened because it skipped from one character to a memory (I think) of another person with no warning.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this bok when I was maybe 11-12( I am13 now) and I loved it! It is about a girl who basicly falls in love with a fairy. I am saying this out of my deepest memorys. If I got anything wrong reply to me @ RE : JMASTER TEENAGE FAIRYS RULE! Oh you can also find me on my upcoming youtube acount SKATEJMASTER
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ItsSerene More than 1 year ago
An amazing story :) wonderfully written.
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