Magnolia's Violet is about three young friends in their early 20s--Sage, Kat, and Farrah--living in the metropolitan NYC area/nearby suburbs (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Greenwich, CT). It is a coming of age story for all three women, each with her own unique arc.
Sage is a recent college grad who spends her days working at her alma mater's college dining hall and interning at a social media hot site (where her father happens to be a star). She is passionate about photography, but can't seem to break through her internship given her father's legacy (no one takes her seriously). As a result, Sage searches to find her right niche. Dark-haired, impetuous, but very smart, Sage happens to also struggle with bipolar disorder. She is managing her illness successfully, however. Only brief flashbacks to more difficult times are "darker" in tone. Her parents are divorced, and originally from the Bronx. As a result, Sage has a dryer, no-nonsense appeal to her that's a bit edgier than her friends, Kat and Farrah. Sage is technically the main character, although the book fluctuates from POV of each woman.
Kat, or Katie (she insists on her friends calling her Kat because she wishes to appear more worldly) is stuck being the surrogate parent to her young teenage brother, Parker, who has high functioning autism. They live in their family's home in Greenwich, CT; however, their divorced parents are more concerned with their own high society lives to really function as the adults in Kat and Parker's lives. When their mother, Candace, overdoses on pills and alcohol, and their father comes for Parker, Kat is left, like her friends, trying to find her own way. Kat is fair, blond, and appears to be the typical Fairfield County princess. But inside, she is anything but. She is going to grad school to become a teacher, which her mother despises (considering the profession "beneath them").
Farrah is the daughter of a Manhattan politician currently running for Congress. She despises politics, however, and is more of a fun party girl (although she is much smarter than she lets on). Farrah, beautiful and dark-haired, works for a very trendy art gallery in lower Manhattan but is let go due to "office politics" (ironic, given her father's career). She also struggles to find her way.
Even though all three women have been given a wealth of resources by their families, they are trying to make their own mark.
Although some dark elements, the novel is mostly hopeful in outlook with the characters growing into the women they want to become.