Magnolia by Kristi Cook


Okay, now I may be biased because Romeo and Juliet is my favorite play of all time and there aren't many inspired by/retellings that I haven't enjoyed (except Black City), but I really liked this book. It was fun and intense and so very adorable.

The Cafferty and Marsden families have been best friends since the Civil War. They've done everything together, from shared vacations and holidays to barbecues and galas. And they've been waiting almost a hundred and fifty years to finally merge into one big family. There's only one problem: Jemma and Ryder hate each other. Though they used to be best friends when they were kids, Jemma has held a grudge against Ryder since eighth grade and can't seem to get past it. So they do all they can to pretend the other doesn't exist; which is almost impossible, considering their mothers have practically planned their wedding, right down to the floral arrangements.

But when Jemma and Ryder are all alone during a violent storm, all grudges and petty arguments fall to the wayside as they fear for their lives. And they discover feelings they've covered so long with hate are anything but.

Though I liked this book, I didn't like it immediately. The first fifty pages were a little iffy. I couldn't instantly relate to Jemma; she seemed like the cliched spoiled cheerleader who was friends with all the football players. And she threw about eighty-five temper-tantrums, foot stomping and all. Also, the pacing was off--everything felt incredibly rushed. Jemma would think about doing something in the future, and then half a page later she would do it. It was weird and unnatural.

But after that fifty page mark, everything fell into place. Jemma was actually immensely relatable--she didn't fit the stereotype--and the pacing was completely natural.

And I loved the storm. It felt incredibly realistic, and the way Jemma and Ryder interacted during it was great. I watched them truly tear down their walls and bare their souls to each other. I watched them cross the line they drew so long ago and fall for each other. It was quite beautiful and authentic.

And like I said earlier, I love books inspired by Romeo and Juliet. Though, of course it was a loose inspiration with many differences. The families aren't feuding, they're friends; and, spoiler alert, (although it's not really, because it's a YA fluffy romance) neither of the main characters die. But the subtle comparisons made me like the story even more.

But even if you aren't a Shakespeare connoisseur, you will like this book. It has everything you would want in a YA Romance, packed with rampant fluff and cuteness.

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