This is the second book in the gripping Oleanders series following seventeen-year-old Lauren as she’s on the run from the terrible things that have happened to her in the past. But where the first book was full of heart-break, loss and abuse, this one is more about healing and forgiveness, and about finding the power to create a new life for yourself.
After losing just about everything; her mother to dementia, her stepdad to suicide, her best friend and secret love Harry, and being the victim of an incredibly traumatic abuse, Lauren is now trying to pick up the pieces and start a new life with her new friend Snap. Snap was introduced at the end of Oleander Are Poisonous and I remember being a bit skeptical towards him then, but I’m so happy to admit that I was wrong. Snap turned out to be a wonderful friend, a sweetheart being there for Lauren no matter what, always encouraging her and having her back. And when Harry suddenly returns to Lauren’s life, Snap is the one pushing her to go after her dreams.
Even though this book deals with heavy topics such as sexual abuse, mental health, suicide, self-harm and homophobia, it’s a very positive, powerful and engaging story. I really rooted for Lauren from the very beginning and wished all the best for her. I didn’t agree with all the choices she made, but that made this story all the more authentic. Where the first book was about Lauren losing herself, this one is about Lauren slowly finding herself again.
“The morning after, I catch my reflection in the mirror. I’m surprised by the smile beaming back at me. Who is that person? That can’t be me. I don’t do happy. ‘Don’t look at me like that,’ I tell myself. But I do anyway. It feels good.”
All in all, Magnolias Don’t Die is a gripping, authentic and utterly heartbreaking story about survival and finding light and hope even in the darkest of places. It really shows the healing power of forgiveness, not for the one who harmed you, but for yourself, to let go, to claw back the anger, to allow yourself to be happy and live the life you deserve.
Thank you BookSirens for the ebook copy of this wonderful book. All opinions are my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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This is such a sad and gripping coming-of-age story, filled with heartbreak, loss and abuse, but also with friendship, healing, hope and help to find light in the dark. It doesn’t shy away from heavy topics such as homophobia, self-harm and suicide, but it does it in a respectful, earnest and hopeful way.
Sixteen-year-old Lauren has not had an easy life. Losing her dad at a young age and shortly thereafter their home, and now her mother to dementia. As if that’s not enough, her best friend and secret love Harry moves away for a scholarship and then another terrible thing happens that I won’t go further into than to say that nothing will ever be the same for Lauren again. She will not be the same person ever again, something is broken forever.
“And there, in a split second, I’ve become something that never, ever occurred to me: a victim. I’m not me anymore. Where did I go?”
I rooted so for Lauren from the very beginning and my heart broke for her when this happened. Life is just so unfair sometimes, which Lauren certainly gets to experience. I didn’t agree with all the choices she made though, but that made this story all the more authentic. Victims don’t behave as “expected”, they act out and do things that are not always the best, just to try and survive and live with the murky truth within them. I’m still not sure how I feel about her new friend Snap though and the path they chose together. He was good to Lauren and brought light in her darkness when she most needed it, but for some reason I don’t trust him and together they seem to be heading for disaster. But I might be wrong! I really hope I am…
This is the first book in AJ Collins’ new Oleanders series about survival and empowerment, and is more of a novella with only about 150 pages. So it’s a very fast read, but still with amazing character development for such a short length, and a gripping story that I can’t wait to continue! I’m eagerly awaiting the chance to read the next installment, Magnolias Don’t Die!
Thank you BookSirens for the ebook copy of this heartbreaking book. All opinions are my own and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Alwyn Hamilton Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Julianne Donaldson Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Mackenzi Lee Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally M. Tasia Nancy Garden Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Teagan Hunter T.J. Klune Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Yamile Saied Méndez