This is yet another egalley from Netgalley. And I'm glad I got it. It is already published, in May, a bit before I downloaded it, and that is part of why I wanted to read it, because I picked it up and read the jacket at the bookstore where I work.
Our main character is Alex, or Alexandria which is her full name. She has lived her whole life on a kind of hippie commune with her mother. They do grow pot like you'd expect, but her mother is more of an herbalist, growing all kinds of herbs and using them to cure and help those around them. Her mother has never really spoken of her past, or Alex's father. At the beginning of the book, Alex's mother dies in a car crash. Alex wants to just stay on the commune and continue working in her mother's herb garden. She has a boyfriend and that's all she's known for her life. But a surprise shows up in the form of a lawyer for her grandmother, who wants to take her back to her hometown, Savannah, Georgia. The lawyer pressures the commune leader with threats of the police finding out about the marijuana, and also gives money to help them continue with the business. So Alex is taken back to Georgia to an old southern mansion. Now, Alex's grandmother is very young looking, and the president of a local debutante group called the Magnolias. She wants Alex to become a part of this as all generations should. Alex is not the type, she has dreadlocked hair, wears only t-shirts and jeans, and hates the consumerism that is shown with shopping. Two of the girls, Madison and Hayes, are asked by her grandmother to get her clothed and fit into the society. At first, Alex fights it. She's chubby, and gets made fun of for it by the other kids at school. So she runs back to the commune, only to find out the leader has destroyed her mother's herb garden to grow more marijuana. She also finds out her "boyfriend" has a girlfriend that has now shown up at the commune. So, she goes back to Georgia and tries to fit in.
Turns out there is some magic going on, how else could a grandmother look that young, and Madison and Hayes eat like pigs, but are perfectly skinny. Alex learns the secrets and begins to become a Magnolia, complete with falling in love with Hayes's brother.
I loved the story, the background, the magic. I do have one major complaint though. The fact that Alex promises Hayes's brother that she won't use magic on him, and then she does. I hate that! I'm such a loyal person, that when I promise something I stick to it. And this made me not a fan of Alex's for doing this. That's my one big gripe with the story, because of course it leads to huge problems with the boy. I think that could have been left out, and with what happens at the end, it could still have happened that way without ruining this. My opinion, but I still liked it, and will be looking forward to the next book in the series.