Author: Katie Crouch
After the death of her free-spirited mother, sixteen-year-old Alex Lee must leave her home in northern California to live with her wealthy grandmother in Savannah, Georgia. By birth, Alex is a rightful, if unwilling, member of the Magnolia League, Savannah's long-standing debutante society. She quickly discovers that the Magnolias have made a pact with a legendary hoodoo family, the Buzzards. The Magnolias enjoy youth, beauty and power. But at what price?
This book has all the ingredients to push my reading buttons - Savannah, one of my all time favorite cities, hoodoo/magic, a hippie chick for the main character- I love all these details. Somehow though, I didn't love this book. I really wanted to though.
This book somewhat reminded me of A Great and Terrible Beauty- secret societies, magic, popular girls bordering on mean girls. I think that Beauty had better character development and was overall done better, but both books had similar themes, including a magical mother who died without telling her daughter anything about what they may be inheriting.
If Alexandria had been my friend, she would have been a really annoying, preachy friend. I am a vegetarian, I believe in being environmentally conscious, but I don't insult people who don't believe the same way. I think I make my opinions known in a way that is less aggressive than Alex. I do like how she was very stick to her guns, and made friends with Dexter, even though he wasn't one of the kids who was near the realm of a Magnolia. I was very disappointed in Crouch perpetuating the idea of beauty only belonging to those who are thin. I was disturbed by all the times that Alex was called Piggy, or Pudgy, and just let it happen to her. She hated being overweight, and had the easy transformation to thin perfection through hoodoo. And her character made no bones about the fact that she never wanted to be chubby again. I think this sends the wrong message about weight to an age group that already struggles with this concept. Body image is something even adult women struggle with, and I believe is particularly damaging for a young girl.
I am looking forward to the next book in the series though, believe it or not- there were a few characters that I actually liked. Hayes, Alex's friend, who seemed genuine and intelligent; Sam and Sina Buzzard, I just want to know more of their story; and Alex's grandmother, I feel we have just tapped the surface of this hoodoo matriarch of the Magnolias. I want to see what else she can do, I guess.
As a YA book, I liked this book more than Twilight, less than Hunger Games and A Great and Terrible Beauty. For me, it fell somewhere in the middle. I have hopes the next one will be better.