Magnolia Parks is one of the most talked about books on BookTok and BookTube. Congrats to Jessa Hastings for creating an easy universe to escape into and watch like an insider. The reviews of the book have been mixed because reading is a personal thing. Before reading, I don’t take a deep dive or dig too deep into a book synopsis, so the basic information seemed exciting and fun. With minimal expectations, I decided to jump into the land of Magnolia Parks head first. If you are hoping for no spoilers, this isn’t the post for you.
I’m a sucker for lists, so here are some points worth discussing from reading the book.
- BJ and Magnolia have a horrible relationship, often described as “toxic.” I expected the worse, like physical and mental abuse. I thought they would be trading insults and just downright talking badly about each other. This isn’t the case, even though I guess there is emotional abuse between these two. I would characterize their relationship as immature. I DO NOT co-sign their relationship in any way; I think these two people got caught up in a childhood relationship that never really grew up. Sometimes I felt they were stuck with adult bodies and responsibilities in their teenage minds. Throughout the book, this relationship often stunts their growth in the real world. BJ spent so much time trying to make it to Magnolia for his indiscretion and masked his pain by having meaningless sex with random girls. Magnolia kept him a string because she wanted to forgive him, and she probably did, but she just wanted him to “earn” her back. These two should have taken a clean break with no sleepovers and flirting to at least give their friendship a chance. Their relationship is definitely like a powder keg on the brink of explosion.
- BJ’s substance abuse issues were glossed over. His being high was a huge point of contention in the book, but no one seemed to want to help him. Magnolia made it seem like this was a breaking point in their relationship, but she would let it go. She got mad, said she was done with him, and a few weeks later, they were hooking up at the Dartmouth house, where they decided they would be “together.” The substance abuse issues were a huge disconnect for me and left me asking, “does anyone love him?” It seemed like they were making excuses for the problem instead of correcting it. His drug use may be a sticking point in a later book, but this is the only book I’ve read for now.
- How could Magnolia NOT know Christian loved her? I know Magnolia is self-absorbed, but this is why she should have known Christian had a thing for her. And Magnolia loved him, too, so why wouldn’t she expect him to have felt those feelings for her too? He always commented off-hand; she should have picked up on the clues. The surfacing of the Christian relationship made me question if these people know the thin line between love and friendship. There is a comfort with the people we know, and sometimes this gets misjudged.
- Magnolia’s relationship with Marsaili is interesting because it’s the parental relationship she has always searched for. This was the most exciting twist of the book, and what made it more interesting is no one questioned it. Magnolia still had a “nanny” at 23 and didn’t think twice about it. Low key, I thought Marsaili or Paili slept with BJ. In one of the Magnolia chapters, there was a reference to those being the closest people to her. I knew one of the two would betray Magnolia in some way. When knowledge of the affair came out, I let the Paili theory go because I thought it would be a single “betrayal” in the book.
- Tom England was a breath of fresh air and the only real relationship Magnolia had in her life, and she threw it away for BJ. I wish she would have returned to Tom after finding out about BJ and Paili. Tom said there was a possibility he wouldn’t be there to pick up the pieces, but he would have been there. (I’ve only read the one book so he could pop up again.) Magnolia needs someone to level/balance her, and Tom complimented her. Plus, Magnolia was happy with him.
- Oh, to be Magnolia Parks! Why were the boys always buying Magnolia things? Are the items like a trophy to her? She could afford to buy her things, but they always picked up her tab.
- This leads me to name-drop every piece of clothing and designer; I understand there is a point behind it all. (Why would Paili be so naive as to wear that perfume on that night?) Her dubious knowledge of these things helped her determine that Paili and BJ slept together.
- I loved Henry. Jonah needed clarification as to why he was a part of the story. He seemed out of place whenever he was there, or I misread his character. Bridget is Magnolia’s true best friend, along with being her sister, but the relationship wasn’t flushed out enough. She was inserted into the story at critical points, but it seemed out of the blue.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It is possible to read a book to escape a different world; you need to be willing to take the journey. BJ and Magnolia had a Chuck and Blair vibe, which goes hand in hand with their immature relationship. There were some great moments in the love story. In the horrible moments, I wish these characters would have stood up for themselves in the name of self-respect.
I will continue to read the series, but it’s not something I need to binge-read. This book is currently available to read on Kindle Unlimited.