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Review: Finding Magdalena by Shannon Condon

Finding MagdalenaMagdalena “Maggie” Curran is a freshman at a prestigious Virginia boarding school when she suffers an unbearable tragedy. Maggie has only one true friend to lean on—Graham Ashford. He is the only one who can help her through the depression and night terrors that follow.

In her junior year, the school deems her stable enough to have a roommate, and her new friend Sarah quickly draws Maggie out of her shyness and into the dating world. While at Sarah’s house for Thanksgiving, however, she meets Sarah’s older brother, Eric, and what starts as a shy crush soon turns into terror as Eric becomes obsessed and violent toward Maggie.

Maggie runs to the safety of Graham, now her boyfriend. But not even Graham can protect her from Eric when he assaults her in her dorm room. Eric is given a light sentence in a mental institution, and Maggie leaves everything behind and moves to her mother’s hometown of Malaga, Spain, to attend college on a music scholarship and try to find her mother’s estranged family.

Beginning with the death of her parents, Maggie has had to reach inside herself to find the strength and resilience to move on. This book will capture your heart in the first few pages and hold you until the shattering climax.

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When you are reading a book, typically you find yourself looking out for key things that will help you determine if you like it or not. In Finding Magdalena, I found myself sifting through a mixture of emotions because there were several things I enjoyed and a few things that really annoyed me.

As the main character, Maggie (aka Magdalena) is a hard character to hate and yet, at times, a difficult character to love. If there is one thing I really dislike in a main character, it’s a Mary Sue. As much as I liked Maggie, I was highly disappointed in how “perfect” she is at anything and everything. For me, realism is key and while someone may look perfect to you, they aren’t. Maggie is even so perfect that after a brutal attack, she barely has a single scar that is able to be covered up. Not even having her face pulverized left any lasting effects on her perfect beauty. That’s not interesting and that’s not realistic. If your face is beat so fiercely that you have to have tubes up your nose to breathe and an ice pack for weeks on your face, there’s going to be something different. At the very least, she could have had a small scar on her eyebrow or a small, barely noticeable bump from a broken nose. But not Maggie. This is only one instance of her perfect perfection and I’ll admit, at times it was hard to remain objective about the story as a whole because of it.

But my opinion on Maggie is just that, it’s an opinion. I’m probably in the small majority of the population who would ever notice let alone care about such trivial things. While I would have been receptive to her, had she some actual flaws/faults, she wasn’t a terrible character and I was actually rooting for her to find her way throughout the book.

My only real criticism outside of Maggie’s perfect perfection, is the fact I felt the description of the book gives entirely way too much away. I can’t imagine how hard it is to come up with a description for a book and hope that it will be enticing enough to catch a reader’s eyes. But by using an actual summary of the story for its description, leaves little left to be discovered. Especially when it comes to the drama that unfolds with Eric. I spent over a hundred pages anticipating Eric’s attack on her in her dorm room and yet, I never would have suspected that had it not been revealed in the description of the book.

As for the plot, I was actually a fan of several major plot points. Since Maggie was such an obnoxious Mary Sue, the fact she didn’t have a picture perfect life helped balance out the few issues I had with this book. I was a bit confused by hers and Graham’s relationship initially. Especially when he suddenly decides he doesn’t want to be with her the day after they confessed their feelings for one another. But teenagers are impulsive and in light of the events that led up to that, I suppose I could understand how he could make such a stupid mistake. Also, I really liked the introduction of Eric into the story line. He was probably the most complex character in the book and trying to figure him out was a challenge. It was clear he was meant to be the token “bad boy” of the book, but not everything he does is completely terrible. He actually has moments when he is decent or sweet.

All in all, this was a pretty solid book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new author to read. She clearly has a real talent for story telling and I think she’s going to be one to look out for in the future. I might have had a few minor quibbles about Maggie or the description, but they are truly minor things and didn’t really impact my thoughts on the book as a whole.

Reviewer’s note: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Rating

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About Kristine

As an aspiring author, avid bookworm, fitness fanatic and dedicated mother, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I write or post about things I'm passionate about and spend my time trying to make the most of every day. Life may be a tough journey, but I have my ruby red slippers and am content on skipping along this yellow brick road until the end of the line.

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