In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.
Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.
But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over. – Goodreads
Oh this book. HEARTS IN MY EYES FOR THIS BOOK. I honestly did not expect to love Magnolia as much as I did, but Jemma and her personality sucked me in.
Magnolia is the story of Jemma, who from the moment she was born was set up to be with Ryder Marsden. Their families have been BFFs for years, but nothing has really worked out where the two families could become one, until Jemma and Ryder were born, within six weeks of each other. Their parents were BFFs throughout college and in the case of their fathers, their whole lives. Jemma wants none of it.
In eighth grade, Ryder was a jerk to Jemma in front of his friends and that has stung her and she holds a bit of a grudge. The thing about Jemma and Ryder is they are teenagers through and through. As an adult, I wanted to slap them and tell them to just talk, but things don’t work out that easily when you’re teenagers. Heck, they don’t work out that easily when you’re an adult! While a lot of their problems would have been worked out if they just talked, there was something sweet and organic about the way they did work out.
Magnolia takes place in Mississippi in the middle of storm season, Jemma’s parents go out of town for a family emergency and they tell her if anything goes wrong to contact Ryder. Ryder is always there for her, in a friendly way. During this storm however, slowly they begin to get closer and understand each other better than they ever did. They bond over how similar their lives are and how much they hate that their lives have been planned out by their mothers. Ryder will be the perfect SEC quarterback and Jemma will be the perfect deb who is also a Delta Gamma. These are things that they aren’t sure they want themselves, but their mothers are super sure that this is THE PLAN.
Jemma, for years played the perfect daughter. While she isn’t the textbook Southern Miss., she is very nearly perfect. Cheerleader, good younger daughter, loving sister, A-student, she is sick of her life being planned for her. She wants to go to NYU, she wants to do film school and be her own person. Her parents don’t understand this. They want her to be that perfect mold of a daughter that worked out so well for their eldest. As a reader, Jemma wasn’t perfect, I spent most of the book frustrated at her because I kept yelling “USE YOUR WORDS” to her, even though Jemma is by far one of the most self-aware characters I’ve ever read. There was a point during Magnolia that Jemma was questioning some of her life choices up to that point and she questioned herself if it was a form of rebellion purely because of boredom and this box her mother constantly puts her into?
This book was such a refreshing read from what I was reading around this book. I started it at 10:30PM one night and stayed up to after 1AM finishing the book. I miss reading books like that. I want more books like Magnolia.