Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review ~ BELLES, by Jen Calonita

Belles
Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. Isabelle is taken away from everything she's ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn't go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn't thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates' Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls' lives forever.  ~From GoodReads





  

Gossip Girl meets Mean Girls, in the South.


I think it's a universal truth that 99.9% of all kids have a fantasy: One day they will be whisked away from their drab, parent-addled life into a world filled with clothes, money, new cars...you get the idea. Back when I was a kid, I hoped my "real parents" were a king and queen. These days, I think kids will settle for unlimited texting and a bottomless iTunes account.

But not Isabelle "Izzy" Scott. She's happy with her life on the wrong side of the tracks. She doesn't even mind the run down home she lives in, or the fact that her only family after her mother's death is her increasingly forgetful grandmother. She has her friends, including the adorable yet mysterious Brayden, her school, her beach. This life is her's and she wouldn't trade it for anything.

So when her grandmother, in a lucid state, has her sent to previously unknown family, Izzy's world is shattered. Who wants the glam life where people treat you like a charity case, act like your a criminal because of your upbringing, or act like you don't deserve to be there? Where your perfect new "cousin" is one of the mean girls trying to bring you down? And what will Izzy do when she finds a face from her old life and learns long-hidden truths about her background?

There was so much that I adored about BELLES.. I love the premise of a girl being offered the good life, and seeing how she responds. Izzy was determined, yet vulnerable. It would be so easy to slip like a warm glove into the new world she's offered. I mean, who doesn't want the best money can offer? But she is determined to remain the same girl she was before.

BELLES is also told from Izzy's new cousin, Mira's, point of view. The alternating points of view really helped keep me from completely hating Mira. Without knowing what she's actually feeling, she could have become a heartless, spineless brat. It was nice to see her vulnerabilites, even though  I was never on her "side".

There are some nice dramatic bits to the story, usually courtesy of the Mean Girls, lead by the awful Savannah. This girl was a pill, without becoming a caricature. If I could have climbed into the story and throttle her myself, I would have. Thank goodness I never had to face girls like this back in school. I would have been in the principal's office, or at the police station, on a regular basis.

Another dramatic turn comes fairly soon after Izzy moves. In the interest of not spoiling the story, my lips are sealed. But it was a nice surprise I didn't see coming at all. It upped the "WTF Factor" in Izzy's world and totally made me love this story so, so much.

My only small complaint would be that the BIG revelation came too late in the story. This was something I figured out pretty quickly and waited the entire book for the bomb to drop. I would have liked to have seen more of the fallout, but with book two coming this Fall, I don't have to wait long to find out what happens next.

All in all, I really, really enjoyed this book. Author Jen Calonita's writing flows flawlessly, making it an easy, fast read. If you're a fan of Contemporary Young Adult with healthy doses of drama and heart, BELLES should be a great fit.


Favorite Quote:

"She'd lived here for her whole life and she had half an hour to put her world in a duffel bag and say goodbye?" (pg. 29, ARC)


Hardcover, 356 pages
Expected publication: April 10th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

You can preorder BELLES at:
Barnes & Noble  |  Amazon  |  Book Depository

Source: Received for an ARC tour hosted by Southern Book Bloggers.


16 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great book, definitely adding to my TBR pile :D

    Also nice review!

    Book Enslaved

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  2. Looks like a fantastic book ,,, GREAT REVIEW

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    1. It was fantastic. Thanks so much for stopping by, Lillie!

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  3. This book sounds great. A friend was going to send me a copy, but I guess she got sidetracked. That's okay, I have tons to read anyways lol! As for wanting to throttle the girl, I totally could not imagine you doing such a thing...You are far to sweet for that. Good to know that the book is well written enough to make you want to be violent haha! Anyways, as always you have written a fantastic review!!!

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    1. Haha! I could totally throttle somebody, or disdainfully stare at them at least. Thanks so much, Amy!

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  4. Oh, this sounds great! And differing POVs where you get to see what the mean cousin is REALLY thinking? Yay! Great review...I have to go add this to my TBR now. :D

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    1. I really did appreciate the alternate point of view. It made Mira seem misguided instead of a horrible person. I hope you enjoy Belles!

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  5. That's different, isn't it? A girl who doesn't want to be rich. Although, sounds like she would be better off not going to live with the rich characters of the story. Really great review, Andrea. I like books about the South. This one sounds really good.

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    1. I did appreciate a non-Material Girl. Thanks for stopping by, Cathy!

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  6. This book sounds really cute. Not your normal story which is way cool. You get tired of reading the same kind of story all the time. Different is better ;) Great review Twinsie! I'll add it to my TBR list ;)

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    1. I really did enjoy it! In fact, if you want to read it, I'll mssg you.

      Love you Twinsie!

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  7. I know you enjoyed this and it does sound like something I would like as well. I like that there are two POV's. Look forward to reading it! Nice review doll face!

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  8. This might be one I want to read!!! It's funny because I was just thinking about the movie Mean Girls and I heard that the book was pretty brutal so I was thinking that I might just need to read it. But this one has mean girls mixed with drama...that might be one I might consider even if there is a little bit of predictability.

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  9. Seems like you liked this one which is awesome! I love a good mean girl but I'm glad you mentioned that she doesn't feel like a caricature. I like books that switch perspectives too so that's definitely a plus for me. Great review!

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  10. Lets first discuss the cover. I liked the cover, It's secretive, what with only showing the girls eyes but it's also classy with the font. Good job with the cover.

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