Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Belles ~ Jen Calonita (eARC) review

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
April 10, 2012
356 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Amazon/or Book Depository

Isabelle, "Izzie," Scott loves the life she has in Harborside. She spends her summer days lifeguarding, swimming in the ocean, teaching swimming lessons at the community center and hanging out with her friends on the boardwalk. Never mind that Harborside is supposedly the "wrong" side of the tracks, the dangerous town where some people are afraid to go. Izzie still loves it.

But when her ailing grandmother - who is losing her memory - is no longer able to care for fifteen-year-old Izzie, a social worker sends her to live with her long lost (and unknown to Izzie until then) uncle. Izzie's uncle and his family (including a cousin, Mirabelle, also fifteen) live in a ritzy, glamorous, well to do town about as far removed from Harborside as can be . . . even if it is only twenty minutes away.

Just as Izzie isn't happy about starting a completely new life, Mira isn't overjoyed at having to share her life with someone, either. Izzie's transition isn't an easy one. Underneath all of the Southern charm there's plenty of queen bees, social hierarchy, backstabbing . . . and more than enough elitism and snobbery to go around.

Belles is a fun and light read - rather predictable, too but that doesn't really ruin it. Izzie's uncle being a state senator - with possible bigger ambitions - was a nice twist for the story. It gave another layer to things. It allowed the story to still be in the South and keep those elements while keeping the added pressure of the political run/future play. I liked that it didn't just involve the dad/uncle being a lawyer or a doctor or some other usual big to-do in the community. Having a campaign manager also involved added a bit of drama and difficulty for Izzie's adjustment.

The story being told from both Izzie and Mira's points of view was nice. It allows readers to see how both girls are viewing the new situation. Readers also get different perspectives on the same things - and get to see what really happened sometimes and not just how one of the characters interprets the effects.

The book did jump over several events or periods that seemed like they wold have helped readers connect with the story. Something would happen and instead of a scene following it, it would be several days later with a few paragraphs recap. Some of the scenes I felt were missing would have helped me to connect with the characters and the story more.

Overall, though, Belles is a light and enjoyable read. It's great to read between heavier and/or darker books.

Rating: 7/10

thank you to NetGalley and LBYR for my egalley of this title

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