Author: Jen Calonita
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Source: publisher (Thank you so much, HBGC!)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon CA | The Book Depository | Chapters
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.MY THOUGHTS:
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.
(summary taken from Goodreads)
I've always been more of a paranormal or fantasy girl (preferring made up worlds to our boring old realistic one), but I think that this was exactly the kind of contemporary book that I've been looking for to get me back into the genre — and I kind of want to hug it for that!
Belles zeroes on the lives of two completely different girls who are inexplicably linked: Isabelle (Izzie), the spunky swimmer who comes from the "wrong side of town," and Mirabelle (Mira), the privileged social butterfly who's still finding out who she is. Set in a beachy Southern town, it may not be a fantasy book but it's still kind of magical in its own way.
I loved both of these girls from beginning to end! Even when they made mistakes and trusted the wrong people, they were realistic and fun and easy to relate to. Izzie didn't take crap from anybody, and Mira surprised me by being more artistic and confident than I expected.
And of course no good contemporary is complete without its sweet boys (one of which is a surfer)! The romance was adorable, but it also didn't take away from the surprisingly touching plot. You get to grow to love each of the characters just like you do with Izzie and Mira, and the benefit of this being a standalone is that you get a nicely wrapped up ending.
Filled with a fun cast of characters and one life-changing secret, Belles is a book you'll want to read while sitting by the seaside and burying your feet in the sand. It finds the balance flawlessly between sweet but not too fluffy, drama-filled but not a soap opera, and inspiring but not preaching. I just loved it! :)
BUY or BORROW?: On top of having such a beautiful cover (I probably had to stare at it in my hands for a few minutes — it's even prettier in person!), I'm definitely taking this book with me the next time I suntan on the beach. Can't do that with a library book, right? ;)