Jemma Cafferty didn't always hate Ryder Marsden. In fact, she was kind of crushing on him back in eighth grade... Only he kind of unknowingly crushed her heart. Which in turn, crushed the dreams of the two closer families of ever being united by marriage. Now seventeen and on the brink of their high school graduation, Jemma and Ryder are more than ready to bid adieu, farewell to everyone's expectations of them ever getting together. But like the storm that batters Magnolia Branch, there seems to be some other stronger force to be reckoned with...
It's not exactly a secret that any book that is set in either the South, or in New Orleans, is already halfway to my list of must-reads. A fluffy-sounding contemporary in the South where glorious chicken and biscuits exist side by side with the lovely drawling accents of the inhabitants? Sign me up!
It wasn't all that hard to fall into this book. In all honesty, I dazedly abandoned everything as soon as I got home, hurriedly grabbed my tablet and sprawled out on my mother's chaise lounge, ashamedly with an arm draped across my forehead, channeling one of them older Southern belles I thought I would encounter. (I must have looked pretty ridiculous, and you know you'd think I would look pretty ridiculous. I don't know why I had to tell you that, but I did. I have no regrets.)
I did like Jemma and Ryder (fine, everyone!) because they're all so darned there. Part of the charm (Ha, Southern charm, amirite? ...Goodness gracious, just ignore me.) of Magnolia is that it's easy to read, and you just fall right in. Like that one time you stumbled across some acquaintance's or friend's secret blog, and you just lap up delicious post after delicious post (which in my case, wasn't delicious at all, because all it did was chronicle what she did for the day. And when you're in school doing the same stuff almost every day, there's really just so much "We had a quiz!" "I ate lunch!" "My teacher is so boring!" posts you can get through).
I found it quite amusing and adorable that the families weren't exactly subtle about their wanting Jemma and Ryder getting together (The proverbial wedding cake is as old as they are, you guys.) It's not so much as an arranged marriage, but it's more like a "C'mon, pleeeeeeeeeeeease get married, you two!" between the two families. It would probably be annoying if they genuinely hated each other, which they definitely don't, so I just sat back in that lounge with a smirk on my face, and watched it all unfold.
About 70% of the book did revolve around Jemma and Ryder's interactions during the storm, and maybe that's where I found some things that may have gotten a bit off. Sure, there's nothing much to do with the power out, and I do understand that they may end up more friendly because of all the time they spend together. I don't get how chummy they suddenly seem though. Don't get me wrong, I want them to end up together, but if I end up stuck in a storm with the guy who humiliated me, and broke my heart, you can best bet that I won't let him know much of my future plans. I also don't get why they use some people to make the other jealous in the first place. They're both sounding off that they dislike the other, but it's like, "Yeah, look - the person I'm kissing right now? Isn't you - BAM, IN YO FACE!" (C'mon, that's lame, you guys.) That's about the only gripe I have with this book, which isn't even all that major for me.
Have I mentioned that I like the cover of the book? It's not all artsy-fartsy and stuff, but it's very fitting. It's got Southern-setting scrawled over the book, without the corny, cheeseball "YEEHAW!" everyone's drawing up in their minds every time someone mentions the South. We have Jemma whose tense-looking body may be pointing the opposite direction, but her head is definitely facing the same direction Ryder is. It's like she's giving off the "I want to do the opposite, but dang, maybe I'm just being contrary, and if I don't do the contrary, then I'm just being myself" mind-warring thing she's doing. (I'm told I overanalyze everything. Do I really?) Ryder's body language, on the other hand, is a bit more relaxed, just like how he is in the book. And can I also just point out that very ominous-looking sky which changes the course of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-ng for the two kids?
Magnolia by Kristi Cook is perfect for readers who are looking for some light contemporary about a reverse Romeo and Juliet-esque couple who just need some time and space to pick up where they last left off.