Title: The Magnolia League
Author: Katie Crouch
Published: 2011 by Poppy, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company
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?
"You know what I hate? Sweet tea."
You know what I hate? Lame books.
Well. I didn’t hate this book. But it was pretty bad.
It took me like five years (exaggeration) to get through this book because I kept hating it, then being slightly interesting in what would happen so I picked it back up. Then hated it again for being stupid, then picked it back up because I hate not finishing books.
In a nutshell, this was the story: Alex gets kicked off the good ole California pot farm to go live with her grandmother after her mother dies. She desperately wants to go back to being a hippie and having a disgusting boyfriend, but alas! It can not be so. The hippies do not want her back (she finds out later), and her Grandmother is quite insistent that she stay in Savannah, GA. But why? Well, turns out Grammy is in a secret society of wealthy women and their daughters and granddaughters. These women constantly look perfect, even the old people look like they’re 30. Well, with her dreadlocks, dislike of showers, and desperate love for nasty clothes, Alex DOES NOT WANT this life. But she gets it anyways. They basically kidnap her. Turns out, they’re using hoodoo magic to keep themselves young and wealthy, but is there something else going on, a secret Alex doesn’t know? (OBVIOUSLY.)
That was my sarcastic rendition of The Magnolia League. And it was pretty accurate.
First on my dislike list, I have… ALEX. Because let’s face it, this character is not consistent. She makes the weirdest decisions, and does the strangest, seemingly out-of-character things, that I was never sure exactly what she thought/who she was/what she wanted. So confusing.
This whole “league” thingy. It was so clichéd. I’m sorry, but a group of wealthy white Southern women using hoodoo magic from their black neighbors to keep themselves young and rich? PREDICTABLE. Maybe not used too many times, but very predictable.
Hayes and Madison are two granddaughters of some Magnolia Leaguers and it’s their job to get Alex “ready” by shopping with her and generally trying to get her not to be a hippie. They are also insanely two-faced (everyone in this book is) and always seemed to have another agenda.
The Buzzard family confused me. Why didn’t they just make up their mind about life? Which of them actually were nice? Who wasn’t? I honestly don’t know.
The hoodoo performed by the Buzzard family was strange. I think it was difficult for the author to write out the initiation scene, because that was a blur of randomness. Also, they made Alex all pretty by using magic on her. Isn’t that a little cheap? I mean, no effort whatsoever. Even for her to lose weight she just had some spell connecting her to a bird. It worked by making her ravenous and then the bird consumed the calories or something. Ugh. Talk about a character transformation requiring zero effort on the part of the character.
Hayes’ brother Thaddeus was the worst character, and all the plot revolving around him was the worst as well. He’s this super “movie-star hot” guy who’s also a snob, but he does talk to Alex a little. However, let me point out that he NEVER seemed like he’d be her romantic other. And I mean NEVER. I might have guessed because there was no one else possible and it seemed like it might go that way, but character-wise, there was seriously nothing that seemed to make them a good couple. But, obviously, as soon as she’s not dreadlocked and fat, he kisses her and they have a few make-out sessions and become “a couple”. He claimed to like her before she was transformed, and I think he might have, but it’s a little shallow of him to only approach her afterward. Now here is where we find drama. It looks as though Madison put a love spell on Thaddeus a while ago for about a week and he went crazy in love with her. Once it was off and he figured out what happened, he swore never to date a Magnolia again. Until, lo and behold, he falls for Alex (who knows why, she’s so … lame.). So randomly, completely out-of-the-blue, Alex gets really jealous of Madison, who has said many times that it’s over and that Thaddeus likes Alex now, and Alex tries to remedy the situation. (can’t say more without spoiling)
The pacing is super slow, until the end when it’s all “BAMBAMBAM – end” and you’re left wondering what just happened. Alex is basically stupid the whole book until one of the last scenes, in which I actually respected her personality, and then again at the VERY end, I disliked her again.
Let’s see if I can say anything good. . .
The setting was really lovely. I’ve never been to Savannah, but I’ve heard that it’s gorgeous, and this really showed that.
I also liked Alex’s friend Dexter. Alex’s mom seems like she was really cool too, but she died before the book started.
I got nothing else.
My last word: I would not recommend this book to anyone, but if it seems like you would like it, go read it! Maybe from your perspective it would be a glorious novel.
Content Warnings: LOTS OF LANGUAGE. Like. Seriously. Lots of it and strong, too. Descriptive making-out.