Izzy's dealing with a lot but she's comfortable with her life in Harborside Beach, North Carolina. In balancing her time between working as a lifeguard, being on the swim team, and sorting out her 'friendship' with Brayden, she's also taking care of her grandmother. All this juggling comes to an end when grams along with their social worker locates a long-lost "uncle" nearby, who's willing to provide a home for the 15 year old. Surely, it wouldn't have come down to leaving the only home she already knew but upon coming to terms with her illness, grams had to make arrangements for herself and Izzy while she still could.
Isabelle is now placed in a situation where she has to adjust to a new life, new family, and new drama. Things get even more confusing for the teen after learning a secret that makes her question everything she knew before.
Jen Calonita is an admirably clever storyteller; Belles delivers a fantastic and compelling plot fit for any daytime soap. There's romance, manipulation, backstabbing, and all the juicy stuff you can think of blended well in the good ol southern atmosphere. This is a must-read if you'd like to be entertained.
When I started the first chapter, I was immediately whisked away into the salty sea, and literally experiencing the warm weather and fun carefree life being described. I initially thought of California with the mention of surfers, I know, very stereotypical. However, after the setting became more apparent I was surprised, but in a good way, because in knowing very little about North Carolina this book introduced me to some pleasant things.
Here was this young girl, who already seemed a bit too grown up for taking on so much responsibilities, coming from a place that doesn’t include the word safe in its reputation, and taken into another which was the complete opposite of the life she lived before. Culture shock is an understatement. Isabelle has to undergo changes that involved starting a new school and fitting into a new community. She was almost like an alien.
And then we have the Monroes, particularly, Mirabelle (Isabelle, belles, get it?). Izzy wasn’t the only one trying to cope with this arrangement. Mira was beyond confused when she heard the news of a distant “cousin” coming to live with her family. She understood, barely, the reason why her parents were doing this, but she now had to share her world with a total stranger. Someone from a place like Harborside to be exact.
I liked how Jen made it all realistic, with both sides making assumptions of the other based on stereotypes. Isn’t that how we all are in life?
The story takes us on an interesting journey with a big reveal along the way. After the truth came out I looked back on that dinner and the parents’ behavior suddenly made sense. I don’t want to spoil so read the book if you’re not following me here.
Overall, Belles is one of the best releases of 2012. The writing is fast paced, intriguing, clear and to the point, and undoubtedly addictive. I finished this book in one day. That’s how good it was.
Author: Jen Calonita
Released: April 10, 2012
Published by: Poppy (Hachette Book Group)
Purchase now on amazon
About the author:
Jen Calonita is a former magazine editor who has intereviewed everyone from Justin Timberlake to Reese Witherspoon. She lives in New York with her husband, Mike; sons Dylan and Tyler; and their Chihuahua, Captain Jack Sparrow, and daydreams about moving south. Jen is currently hard at work on her second book in the Belles series, Winter White, coming October 2012.
Image Credit: pickapoppy.com/belles