I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block

11 Dec


Block, Francesca Lia. I Was a Teenage Fairy. Joanna Cotler, 1998. 186 pages. ISBN 978-0-7587-9597-7

Plot Summary:

Barbie Marks is a model, she has been since she was just a kid. This is what her mother wanted for Barbie, because it is the life that she could never have. When Barbie was still just a kid, her photographer sexually abused her and she told her mother she didn’t want to go back, but her mother made her anyways. One day when she was at the studio she saw a young boy who had that look in his eyes, and Barbie knew what had been done to him. That was the only time she saw that boy. As time went on Barbie met a new tiny friend, her name was Mab, and she was a fairy. Mab was always there for Barbie whenever she needed her, and as she grew up they grew closer. When Barbie was a teenager, Mab talked her into running away from home and to a new life. She moves to the city and meets this guy who she surprisingly really likes. The most surprising thing though is the boy who is friends with the guy she falls in love with, he was the boy from the studio from when she was a kid. Now Mab has her work cut out for her, she is going to have to help both Barbie and the boy move past their childhood traumas, and possibly find love.

Critical Evaluation:

Author of the Weetzie Bat series, Block’s inventive tales always have some greater meaning behind the words that what meets the eye. This is a mesmerizing tale of a girl named Barbie Marks, who is a child model who has been sexually abused by her photographer. Forced into this life by her mother, she longs to get away from it all and be the one behind the lens, rather than in front of it. Barbie takes refuge through her new friend, Mab, a teeny-tiny fairy, to find some solace from her tragic past. Mab symbolizes a few different things throughout the story. First she acts as the anger that Barbie feels towards her mother and her photographer and the life they have given her. Then she acts as the audacity Barbie has to move away from it all and take life into her own hands for a change. Lastly she acts as a match maker and guide for Barbie to be able to have an intimate relationship with a male after all of the trauma from her past that she faced when she was sexually abused by her photographer. A beautifully written story that is magical and heartfelt.

Reader’s Annotation:

Mab is just a tiny, red-haired fairy. Is she even real? Or is she the anger, the courage, and the ultimate match-maker for one unfortunate girl named Barbie?


Francesca Lia Block is known for her groundbreaking novels and stories. They are usually postmodern, magic-realist tales that transport the reader through the harsh, gritty landscapes of contemporary life to transcendent realms of the senses where love is always our saving grace. She was born in Los Angeles, where she still lives. Her work pulsates with the language and images of the city’s sprawling subculture.

She has described her work as “contemporary fairy tales with an edge,” where the real world and its trouble find solace through the magic of creative expression and love. She has received numerous honors, including the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award and the Phoenix Award, also,  citations from the American Library Association, The New York Times Book Review and the School Library Journal, Her work has been published around the world and translated into many languages. (


Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Ties:


Booktalking Ideas:

Barbie has lived her whole life as a model.

Barbies best friend is a fairy named Mab.

Reading Level/Interest Level:


Challenge Issues:


Why I included this book:

I love Francesca Lia Block and her writing style. It was hard choosing between her books, but I finally chose this one mainly because I like fairies.

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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in LIBR 265-10 Database Project/Blog


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