Frogs and French Kisses (Magic in Manhattan #2), by Sarah Mlynowski

Unlike Bras and Broomsticks, which I read countless times throughout my adolescence, I only read its sequel, Frogs and French Kisses, once. Not because I didn’t enjoy it. It was likely because the story was getting juicy enough that I wanted to keep plunging ahead through the series. It clearly had staying power, too, since although it’s been over a decade since first reading this book, I could still remember several key scenes. 

Rachel Weinstein has accepted that both her mom and younger sister are witches and she is not. But the conclusion of her previous adventure left her feeling quite down, so Miri decides to cast a love spell to make up for it. But instead of Rachel’s crush Raf falling for her, it’s Raf’s older brother Will who falls for her instead. Rachel gets swept alongside Will into the prom committee while both her mom and Miri rediscover their magic potential with toxic, and frankly annoying consequences.

Rachel is definitely her same semi-selfish self in this book, but she stretches her limits with her “relationship” with Will. She knows deep down that his love for her is not real, but she feeds off his flattery and devotion. It’s not bad, per se, but I did sometimes grit my teeth thinking of how uncomfortable such a situation would have made me feel. I guess it makes for juicy drama, but I almost wish Rachel would have felt more discomfort about it.

But Rachel’s blindness to reality is nothing next to her mom and Miri rediscovering their magic.

Once Miri realizes she can use her magic to do good, she stretches herself traveling all over the world to help animals, fix an oil spill, feed the homeless, and even fix a hole in the ozone layer. It becomes a near obsession for her, forgetting that her magic has consequences. At one point, she jeopardizes the entire power supply of Manhattan just to save one baby goat from a subway train. It’s like, “Miri, forget the freaking goat, don’t drag an entire freaking island of people down with you for one stupid animal!”

And then there’s their mom, who one day decides that she’s going to start dating again. But she starts using magic to first improve her appearance, then to get things done around the house, and finally to simply do literally everything for her. It gets to the point where she doesn’t get home until well past midnight, leaving her two daughters to fend for themselves most nights of the week. Rachel and Miri are capable kids, but it frustrated me to see their mom almost neglect them as she fell deeper into a magical addiction. She goes way out of line sometimes, at one point even telling Miri that her falling behind in school was a deliberate ploy to get back at her mom for starting to enjoy dating again. Like, lady, get a grip!

By comparison, Rachel was the most mature of the three.

I will say, Rachel’s growth definitely improves in this installment since she technically needs to parent both her own mother and Miri. Her frustration is palpable and completely justified. Although she herself was a little irritating in her back and forth between Will and Raf, she comes through in the end.

Is this installment better than the previous one? Well, it doesn’t have quite the same nostalgia value, and Miri and her mom do get pretty annoying and selfish. But I enjoy Rachel’s growth and learning more about how magic works. And I guess it does have an ending so exciting that I remember where I was the first time I read it. But where that ending leads is for another time.

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