BY JESSA HASTINGS
She is a beautiful, affluent, self-involved and mildly neurotic London socialite. He is Britain’s most photographed bad-boy lothario who broke her heart. But Magnolia Parks and BJ Ballentine are meant to be, and everyone knows it. They’re in the stars… just suspended in a strange kind of love that looks like hurting each other a lot of the time: She dates other people to keep him at bay; he sleeps with other girls to get back at her for it. But at the end of their every sad endeavour to get over one another, it’s still each other they crawl back to. But their dysfunction is catching up with them, pulling at their seams and fraying the world they’ve built; a world where neither has to ever let the other go completely. As the cracks start to show and secrets begin to surface, Magnolia and BJ are finally forced to face the formidable question they’ve been avoiding all their lives: how many loves do you really get in a lifetime?
Magnolia Parks is a dumpster fire, trash book that I couldn’t put down and am somehow obsessed with. It’s toxic yet intoxicating. I picked it up and thought it wasn’t going to be the book for me, but then the next thing I knew I was 100 pages in. I knew it wouldn’t end well but it was a train wreck that I just couldn’t look away from.
Why is everyone so in love with Magnolia Parks? The girl not the book. This was the question I kept coming back to. We really don’t get to know her outside her relationship with BJ. She’s stubborn as hell, a pain in the ass and yet fully herself. I too found myself being drawn to her. I’m actually really excited to see the person she’s grown into in the next book.
In the same way I was confused by the pull of Magnolia on those around her, BJ was an equally confusing hot mess. He had his redeeming qualities though and I understood why they were caught in the toxic loop of trying to work things out. He frustrated me to no end though and was so self sabotaging. Then he would go and be an amazing friend or act in a brotherly way towards Bridget and diffuse a bad family situation and like Magnolia I’d be pulled in again too.
Make no mistake this relationship was lethal. It wasn’t just BJ though. Was he objectively the worse of the two? Yes 100%. Magnolia always had a countermove to his actions though. The double standard between them was honestly astounding. BJ could screw the whole town, but the second Magnolia even considers moving on physically, she’s suddenly the bad guy and the one breaking them. The hoops he had to jump through to blame her was laughable. I hated his perspective because you could see he knew what he was doing was bad and still did it. It was just a bad relationship formed from a trauma bond that needed to conclude.
Magnolia Parks was an addicting read that gives real insight into the dynamics of toxic relationships. It also aims to tackle to question of can love really conquer all? Should it? This is something I was on the fence about the whole time. Is what BJ and Magnolia have really even love? While I wasn’t rooting for them exactly, I was wanting them to find their peace. Whether that’s together or not still has yet to be seen. I’m looking forward to their second book and I really hope the dynamic between them finally has a conclusion.