Outskirts Press (2015)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Readers Views (6/16)
“Finding Magdalena” by Shannon Condon is a book every parent of a teenage girl should read, and is a great coming of age novel.
Maggie Curran is a freshman in college in Virginia and has the perfect life. She excels at everything she does until her parents are killed in a car accident. Having a great deal of trouble handling this tragic event, Maggie gets a roommate in her junior year with whom she really bonds. Over the Thanksgiving break, Maggie meets her roommate’s brother, Eric. Eric and Maggie begin with a crush, only to end up in an abusive relationship. Eric is abusive and controlling and Maggie is somewhat naive.
Escaping to college in Spain to be near family she has never met, Maggie thinks she is safe only to find Eric has escaped a mental institution to reign terror again. Even though her newfound family (especially the men) takes a protective stance for her, she is unsure of whom to trust.
Author Shannon Condon has truly captured the essence of violence and dating that many teenagers find themselves in. This reviewer’s only issue with the character Maggie is that she is too “perfect.” I would have preferred to see her add in some of Maggie’s vulnerabilities to show how some relationships evolve into violence and the “red flags” to watch out for. As a psychologist, I have seen dating violence repeatedly, even with my own daughter.
Overall, I found “Finding Magdalena” by Shannon Condon to be very well written, and easy to read, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I found myself giving warnings to Maggie throughout the story. For some readers it will be an emotional roller coaster. The author, a single mother of three, has done a great job on her first novel. She was able to describe events so that readers could feel they were right there with the characters. Readers will find they are rooting for Maggie and hissing at the villain. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.