Everyday Magic by Emily Albright
Published by Merit Press
Emily Albright, the author of The Heir and the Spare, has written a new modern-day fairytale about the complexity and fragility of maintaining a relationship while dealing with life’s obstacles.
The protagonist of the book is Maggie Mckendrick, a freshman in university. Maggie’s character is a deeply-relatable person for the youth of this generation. We all start to worry about the future and what next step we’d like to take in our lives and some of us also feel trapped into pursuing a life we don’t want to live just as Maggie does by her father in the story. While dealing with the pressure of university and disobeying her father’s wishes, she still manages to do whatever it takes to keep her loved ones safe and happy no matter how much she and her fashion career may suffer. As the story develops, she becomes increasingly strong and brave and chooses to take away her father’s power over her life away from her.
As a young adult, Maggie wasn’t sure who she was other then “famous director, Scott McKendrick’s daughter”. She spent most of her time on his set and most of the relationships she’s had have suffered due to her father’s status. She was often used by others to get closer to her father and then dropped when she was no longer needed. As she meets new people throughout the story, she hides her father’s identity to figure out who she is as just “Maggie McKendrick.” A lot of us can connect to what she was feeling as we grow and try to figure out who we are without hiding behind people’s shadows. We often get compared to people such as parents and siblings and don’t know ourselves without the status’ we get relating to others. She’s been trapped in her father’s life all her life and never had own of her own, but as she goes off to university and is away from her father, she starts figuring out who she is and grows from the reputation she gained from his success.
Maggie, her mother and at a certain time, her brother all dealt with a lot of both mental and physical abuse from her father throughout the story. From body shaming and threatening, to grabbing them tightly until he got his ways, there was no end. Their family bond had strongly suffered and they always felt tense and on edge when he was around. They’d dealt with it their whole lives until her mother finally drew a line and filed a divorce. Though it helped keep a distance between Maggie and her father for a while, it didn’t last long. Near the end of the story, after her father put her life through troubles and took advantage of her, she finally felt brave enough and cut him out of her life herself. This conveys an important idea: just because the mother took action and got him out of her life, doesn’t automatically make him out of Maggie’s. It really identifies how escaping someone only comes from yourself. She tried hiding from him through her mother thinking she wouldn’t have to confront him but soon learned it was up to her to take action and cut the ties herself, which is something we can learn from just as she did in the story.
Her father’s behavior affected not only the family itself, but also the people associated with Maggie. Her summer love was put to a huge test when she got roped into fake dating the lead to her father’s movie for publicity. The more it developed, the more it took a toll on her real relationship. Preston Browne -the boy Maggie fell in love with in the summer- really showcases the difficulty in coping with others’ circumstances. Although Maggie was the one going through something, he was affected second hand. Preston tried to maintain their relationship while keeping her secret; but as friends and family asked and he couldn’t tell the truth, he could no longer handle it. This shows us that coping with the circumstances doesn’t always work out and can potentially put a strain on the relationship. Some leave, some stay, and many come back.
Though sexuality and identity weren’t the main topics in the story, they we’re still mentioned enough to have an impact on the reader. The book helped explain how sharing our identity and sexuality can have consequences on our work and personal lives. The character who emphasized those topics in the book was Ben Chambers, the lead to Maggie’s father’s new movie. His reasoning for agreeing to pretending to be Maggie’s boyfriend for the movie was that if he didn’t, Maggie’s father would tell the world he was bi. His biggest worry about the world knowing his sexuality was that he could lose multiple acting opportunities and have it plastered all over the media, something he wasn’t going to risk. Many can recognize the fear he felt because though the world may be more at ease with the topic, there’s still a huge amount of people that disagree or disapprove.
The only flaw is that the book feels a bit rushed. There were many interesting ideas that weren’t developed as much and could’ve added more depth to the story. They weren’t always clear and felt unknown as if we’d gotten introduced to them without getting to know them. The character, Ben Chambers, for example, dealt with sexuality issues that were interesting but underdeveloped. If the author had explored that character and his struggles, it could’ve added a lot more interest and diversity in the story. The suspense also lacked when reaching the climax of the story. As I got to suspenseful moments, I wondered about what’s going to happen next but didn’t get enough of a chance to think about my ideas since I immediately got my answer in the next page.
The book is a great read for a teen audience. It includes many different ideas that all relate to self-identity. Many of the characters were seen going through identity change. Whether it was because of their home life or their sexuality, they all came to know who they are and embrace themselves near the end of the story. What made the book stand out to me personally was the way it shared important struggles young adults often go through while still focusing on the young romance. I’d recommend this book to most young adults especially romantics. I as a young romantic myself, I really loved reading it because it felt very realistic and sensible while having a fairytale-like plotline which I enjoyed.