Release date: April 10th, 2012
by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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.
Belles is told in an alternating point-of-view between Izzie and her cousin Mira, which is fascinating because these two can’t be any more different. We really get to see – as they say – both sides of the track. On Izzie’s part, as you can guess, we have conniving queen bees who are not very accepting of this “poor” girl. Izzie has, unsurprisingly, a very hard time fitting in and her down-to-earth, don’t take any crap, personality is really easy to connect with. As for Mira, she has been leading this privilege life and just happens to be queen bee’s right hand, so it’s very difficult for her to relate to Mira even the slightest. Mira can seem heartless, even conceited at times, but getting to see her POV makes us actually understand that it’s equally hard for her to suddenly have a new family member. I truly enjoyed both characters: Getting two drastically opposite narratives really makes the story that much more entertaining.
With all the gossip and drama, we obviously have to have some romance. It’s not a big part of the story, but it’s there nonetheless. I loved how it was integrated in the plot lightly, giving it more of a romantic charm. The actual plot has an air of mystery – you know a twist is coming (and it’s a good one!) – but it’s essentially about Izzie having to adjust to this dazzling lifestyle she’s been thrown in while staying true to herself, and dealing with her less-than-charming classmates. If you’re a fan of the popular TV series Gossip Girl or 90210, you will greatly enjoy Jen Calonita’s Belles!
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