So my name is Rashika and I am weird. I read a lot (duh) and I watch a lot of TV. I also like to review. Check out my blog (where I co-blog with awesome people).
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
When I first heard about Magnolia, I was sold. Tornados? SURVIVING one? Love/hate relationships? What else could I want? Nothing. This book lived up to every single one of my expectations and then some. Okay, I was lying. I wanted more. SO MUCH MORE. This book was just not long enough and I was heartbroken when it came to an end.
This story is kind of like Romeo and Juliet in reverse, where the families are "like this" and the kids hate each other… or do they?
This is the kind of book you hate reviewing, because there are so many things you have to say, yet every time you try to think of those things, you end up drawing a blank. In other words, I loved this book.
One of the best things about this book was the presence positive relationships between siblings and friends. All the support Jemma's friends showed her warmed my heart, and I loved the bond between Jemma and Nan.
What I liked even better is that, in spite of the fact that bothJemma's and Ryder’s mothers are pushy, they aren’t portrayed as villains. They ARE mothers and they DO love their children, even if they do get a little (this is a slight understatement) carried away.
The main characters are SO LIKEABLE.
On one hand you have Jemma, who works hard and is the "good" daughter who follows the rules and does what her parents want. The problem is that she is now starting to realize that she doesn’t want what her mom has planned for her. What she wants is to be able to go to NYU to study film. But when tragedy strikes and her sister is diagnosed with a brain tumor, things get a little rocky, and suddenly she doesn’t know how to ask for what she wants.
On the other hand, you have--wait for it--RYDER. Ryder is the love interest and while he doesn’t he get his own POV (which is a real pity), he definitely plays a larger role than just being your typical eye candy--he has the exact same problem as Jemma (which really isn’t surprising once you get to learn more about the their family's dynamics). What makes him so likeable is that, under his tough exterior, he really just is a silly (and absolutely adorable) teen who isn’t quite sure of what he wants. And like all teens, he is just trying to figure it out. What’s even sweeter is that he isn’t a two-faced jerk. HE IS A SWEETHEART.
The romance between the two is just so well developed. They have this love/hate relationship which isn’t so much "hate" as it is them not being sure about whether or not they want each other. Their moms have spent their entire lives pushing them together... and as the two start to realize that they don’t want what their moms want for them, they begin to question their attraction as well. What if their moms are wrong about that as well? An incident that occurred in 8th grade made things slightly more complicated. As a result, they stopped being friends and started pulling away from each other.
The tornado forces the two together. With both of their parents out of town, they will have to rely on one another to get through the storm--that’s what ACT II is all about. Act II was my favorite part of this book, and I so desperately wished it had been longer. The details Cook included about the tornado, the destruction, the fear, the sirens, and generallyall of it, was just marvelous. I have always enjoyed a good survival story, and I just wanted the survival aspects of this to be given more stage time, especially since our main characters were FINALLY together without anyone to interrupt them.
I think, had ACT II been longer, or if the book focused on the storm more, it would have been a 5 star read for me. If we got a better glimpse of the aftermath instead of fast-forwarding 2 weeks to when things were getting back to normal, I would have been so much happier.
ACT III was where things became a lot weaker, in my opinion. I guess it was kind of like the whole storm was forgotten about, and that was slightly upsetting. Don't get me wrong, I loved seeing the whole family come back together--especially Nan. I loved seeing the relationship between Jem and Ryder develop further, but it just felt like the storm was basically swept under the rug.
That aside, this book was really heart-warming. I adored it and would recommend it to everyone looking for a generally positive book with great relationships, cute couples and a very fun premise.