Middle Grade Book Review

One Jar of Magic by Corey Ann Haydu

Publication Date: February 9, 2021

Summary from NetGalley:

Magic is like a dream. Delightful. Terrifying. Unreal.

Rose Alice Anders is Little Luck. Lucky to be born into the Anders family. Lucky to be just as special and magical as the most revered man in town—her father. The whole town has been waiting for Rose to turn twelve, when she can join them in their annual capturing of magic on New Year’s Day and become the person she was born to be.

But when that special day finally comes, Rose barely captures one tiny jar of magic. Now Rose’s dad won’t talk to her anymore and her friendships have gotten all twisted and wrong. So when Rose hears whispers that there are people who aren’t meant for magic at all, she begins to wonder if that’s who she belongs with.

Maybe if she’s away from all the magic, away from her dad telling her who she’s meant to be, who she has to be, Rose can begin to piece together what’s truly real in a world full of magic.

ARC provided by HarperCollins Children’s Books via NetGalley for an honest review.

I really struggled with this book, I just found it completely underwhelming and really had a tough time with the story and the characters. I liked the concept of magic being kept in jars and how they were used, and with the idea that the whole town could capture and use the magic, but I think that part of the story was more in the background and sort of muddled what the real story was about.

Rose was an interesting character. The author did capture what it is like to be that age, uncertain of life and friendships changing. Her home life, especially her father, is what becomes the focus of this story. Her father is abusive, both emotionally and at times physically, which we see through mostly flashbacks and memories that Rose has. The story focuses around how Rose starts to see and accept that maybe this isn’t the best for her or her mother and brother and how she solves the problem. Which would have made a find story, except for the magical component, which just muddied everything. Although we are told at the end that magic doesn’t solve anything, which is true, but could have been handled better.

I also never connected with the writing style of the author. The constant flashbacks and memories of times her father was both good and bad, broke up the flow of the story. I did like the parts where Rose struggled with her friendships, those were well done as was her relationship with her brother.

This book does seem to have many glowing reviews so perhaps it is just me. I do think the author has an important message, I just think that the writing style and the inclusion of magic muddle up in the story and will not keep kids interested enough to hear it.

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