Published: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Poppy (Hachette Book Group)
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary
My Rating: 4/5
Summary (from chapters.ca):
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.
**NOTE: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher. However, no compensations were made and this review reflects my honest thoughts and feelings**
There is something to be said for upbringing but when you are thrown into a new 'social setting' and made to feel like the scum of the Earth, who is to say that those with the most money have the most class?
I feel like I have read this story before, or maybe watched the movie, but the way that Jen Calonita puts it all together makes it feel brand new. From the beginning, I felt an instant connection to Isabelle (Izzie) because while coming from a broken home with little to no money, she didn't mope around but instead saw the ray of sunshine through the clouds. Stories that have main characters like Izzie really warm my heart because I think that everyone, but mostly the young girls who will read Belles, will be able to learn something from her.
When Izzie is thrust into the Emerald Cove community, and Emerald Prep - the high end private school for children who never want for anything - she should have everything working in her favour. Her uncle is the state Senator, her cousin, Mirabelle, is the number two most popular on campus, but being from the 'wrong side of the tracks' does nothing but hurt Izzie. As each of the characters came forward, I started getting a 'Mean Girls' vibe to the story and really - REALLY - disliked most of the other girls (Savannah, Lea and crew). It really drove home just what some girls go through in high school and made me feel very sad. The supporting male characters, on the otherhand, were wonderful. I fully enjoyed each and everyone of them and really hope that they continue to play such great roles in Winter White (Belles #2).
I found that the story flowed really well. As I would get used to one thing happening, something would come out of nowhere and knock me back a few paces. I just never knew exactly what to expect. Jen Calonita's writing style is perfect for the genre in which she has chosen to write.
Overall, I feel that Belles is a perfect story for anyone but especially for those who feel that getting up and going to school everyday is a struggle. Knowing that you don't have to conform to 'the rules' is winning half the battle. Jen Calonita has created a true 'hero' in Isabelle Scott!