Thursday, June 21, 2012
Review: Belles by Jen Calonita
Isabelle Scott has a lot on her shoulders. When her mother passes away, she only has her grandmother left. Isabelle has always lived with her mother and grandmother. When her grandmother’s mental health begins to decline, Izzie does everything possible to keep them together. Her community helps her every step of the way, including sending them meals. In her spare time Izzie gives free swimming lessons at the local community center, works as a lifeguard and manages to spend time with her friends. Summer is just about over, and school is about to start. Her life is demanding but she wouldn’t change it for the world. When her social worker calls, and insists on meeting with her, Izzie knows something is up and she’s afraid of her future. Her life is turned upside down, when she is told that her grandmother had made arrangements for her to be taken care of by an unknown uncle while her grandmother will be put into a nursing home. Izzie is a teenager, and teenagers aren’t suppose to take care of themselves and their ailing grandmother. Izzie is given very little time to pack up, before she is dropped off at her new home in a rich community. Izzie is taken completely out of her element. Her cousin, Mirabelle isn’t thrilled to share her life. Her Aunt is handing her everything on a silver platter, and Izzie is a fish out of water. Money doesn’t buy happiness, and Izzie really struggles to be happy.
I really loved Belles, I thought it was very well written. I really enjoyed all the characters and their dynamics. I really couldn’t peel myself away until I was finished. Izzie’s situation is very unique, and heartbreaking. She only has her grandmother left, and her grandmother doesn’t know who she is anymore. The relationships really resonated with me, the loss of her mother and grandmother, her not being able to bond with all the members in her new family, and her school life. I thought it was very realistic that she was able to bond with her male cousins, but there was a lot of tension with her female cousin, who was the same age. Mirabelle really feels threatened, and angry that everyone expects Izzie to blend in with her friends and social life.
The background story about the long lost “Uncle” really didn’t sit well with me. I knew there had to be something more to that story, and I was right. There was one line in the book that really gave me a clue, and I had to find out if I was right. The only issue I had with the story is the fact that her uncle was a running for U S Senate and he went to the media about Izzie coming to live with her. I felt that storyline was very unrealistic and dramatic. Her story was in magazines, featured in newspapers, and her uncle went on talk shows to speak about her situation and used the story to help his political campaign.
Overall, Belles was a great read! This is my type of young adult read. This book is emotional and the characters are very memorable. This book is definately worth the time, and even with it’s flaws, I enjoyed every minute of it. Highly recommended!