Rachel Harris's Reviews > Where I Belong

Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
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Mar 23, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, wish-i-wrote-it, fun-summer-reads
Read in March, 2011

I adore a good YA Contemporary. While I enjoy being sucked into the world building of paranormal, there’s just something about reading a novel with real people that I can completely relate to and a world just like my own. It has its own special magic.

This weekend I inhaled Gwendolyn Heasley’s WHERE I BELONG, a YA Contemporary about a New York City girl who is sent to the boonies of Texas after her father is laid off during the recession. Corrinne is unlike most of the YA heroines portrayed in the novels I read because she isn’t exactly likeable for much of the book, and she makes fun of my beloved Texas. But by surrounding her with lovable characters who are unique and funny, Ms. Heasley helps the reader relax, knowing Corrinne will be worn down eventually. And until then you can lap up the prose.

Poetic at times, snarky in others, and always authentic, WHERE I BELONG’S narrative and dialogue is superb. It is clear from page one that you are in the hands of a master craftsman. The setting description is very visual and the sprinkling of dialect makes you feel as though you’ve taken a trip to the outskirts of ‘God’s country.’

The romance in this book is lovely. I think there are only two kissing scenes in the entire book, and one of them is on the very last page, but there is a humming tension carried throughout the story. Two boys with two very looks and approaches to life, Bubby and Rider, vie for Corrinne’s attention and while it is obvious from the beginning who she should be with, her path to get there is relatable and believable.
And finally, Corrinne’s character arc is beautifully done. I didn’t particularly like the character in the beginning and she frustrated me to no end in the middle, but it was always done in a way that made you turn the page, waiting to see her redemption. The story doesn’t hit you over the head with a preachy message, or say one lifestyle—city or country life—is necessarily better than the other, but Ms. Heasley uses both settings to explore Corrinne’s emotional journey. When she emerges on the other side, she is softer and more down to earth, yet still retains some of the filterless snark that made you root for her in the beginning.

I was sad to reach the end of this book, and I can’t wait to read Gwendolyn Heasley’s future projects.
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