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DON'T EXPECT MAGIC by Kathy McCullough


by Kathy McCullough

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-385-74012-8
Publisher: Delacorte

Reeling from her mother's unexpected death, a teen curmudgeon is packed off to live with her distant father, a life coach who is secretly an actual fairy godfather, in this slyly humorous, but predictable romance.

Adjusting to her relentlessly sunny California digs proves to be almost as challenging for protagonist Delaney Collins as coming to terms with missing her mom. Her acerbic wit—she renames one of her dad’s motivational manuals “Seize Happiness by the Throat and Choke It Until It Gives In”—helps her to build and maintain a shield from her peers, even as cute photography geek Flynn continually forces her to rethink her stereotype of him. Eventually, the indifference she feigns toward her dad crumbles as she discovers his absence was not motivated by irresponsibility but by his need to hide his powers from her, in a plot point that abruptly shifts the novel from realism to fantasy. Readers, particularly those who enjoy Delaney's cleverly sharp tongue, may find her transition from sullen to emotionally available too contrived. Her supposed myopia about Flynn’s affections also seems unbelievable. Offsetting this, however, are some brilliantly timed moments of situational comedy and the convincing voices of characters, both primary and secondary.

Fans of the burgeoning paranormal-humor genre will find plenty to like in this debut. (Paranormal comedy. 12 & up)