Monday, April 05, 2010

White Cultivates An Original, Optimistic Debut With Forget-Her-Nots

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Fourteen-year-old Laurel Whelan is well-acquainted with the magic of flowers. She's named after one, for starters. As a child, she wandered her grandmother's prize-winning gardens and helped her florist mother tend to her blossoms. Even now that Laurel's mother has passed away, Laurel can sense her spirit in every floral-scented breeze. Still, flowers have never made the teen feel quite this tingly. Has all her research on the Victorians' flower language gone to her head? Is that why she felt so strongly that the tussie-mussie she gathered was supposed to go to her lonely English teacher? Is it just coincidence that magic words popped into her head and actually worked? What is going on?

Strange things have been happening ever since Laurel stepped onto the campus of Avondale School. She longs for her mother, who once roamed these same grounds. Is that why the scent of every flower seems to carry her off to some strange la la land? Is it just her grief that's giving her a very strong sense of exactly which flower a girl needs to make her wishes come true? Because that's what's been happening ever since she gave her report in English. Suddenly, she's got girls asking for "tussies" to help catch a guy's eye, to repel unwanted attention, and to give luck on tests. As the new girl in school, she's thrilled to finally be included, but does she really want to be known as "Floral Laurel?"

When one of her "spells" flops, Laurel begins to worry that her powers might just be a weird fluke. Then, she learns the truth. The shocking, amazing, ancient truth: She's got more power than she ever dreamed possible. The trick is learning to use it. Laurel's caused several fiascos already - how many more will it take before she can harness her power enough to snag a glance from Justin? Does she really want this weird magic anyway, if it's the only reason people like her? As Laurel learns more about her connection with flowers, she'll delve deeper into the secrets of her family and, ultimately, herself.

I like flowers as much as the next girl, so I found the premise behind Amy Brecount White's first novel intriguing. Although Forget-Her-Nots could have been slimmed down and sharpened up, it's an easy, entertaining read with a more hopeful tone than is usually found in these types of books. The characters could use some depth, the plot could move faster, and the dialogue could definitely be snappier - overall, though, I enjoyed the book. White gets points for originality and optimism. Until the sequel, I'll be holding forsythia for anticipation.

(Readalikes: Reminded me a bit of Chocalat by Joanne Harris)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for mild language and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received this ARC from the generous folks at HarperTeen. Thank you!

The Hogwarts Reading Challenge: I read Forget-Her-Nots for History of Magic class. (+1 point for HufflePuff!)

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a fun read. And the cover is beautiful.

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