K's Reviews > Belles

Belles by Jen Calonita
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's review
Jul 04, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: library

In West Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground is where I spent most of my days
Chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool
And all shootin' some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys who were up to no good
Started makin' trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
And said you're movin' with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air

Izzy doesn’t get into a fight (Harborside isn’t like that, swear), but this is a story all about how her life got flipped turned upside down. Her grandmother’s failing mental faculties get the attention of social services because at fifteen, Izzy’s not really fit to run a household. Her social worker steps in and drops a new life at Izzy’s feet. She has a distant relative who’s willing to take her in. It might not be far from Harborside, but the chi-chi neighborhood of Emerald Cove might as well be another planet. Izzy has minutes to pack and just days to adjust to her new, privileged life of private schools, galas, and mean girls with the limitless financial backing of rich daddies.

I’m not terribly fond of Cinderella or poor little rich girl stories, but Izzy is no shrinking violet. There are no evil stepmothers or hero-complex Prince Charmings. Instead, the Monroes are a pretty great family and the boy of the story likes the scrappier side of this Harborside heroine. It doesn’t take her long before Izzy figures out she needs to shake up the establishment. The great part is that she keeps her heart and integrity while doing it.

I initially thought of the Fresh Prince, but The OC might be more apt. It wasn’t all Chrismukkah and bad decisions on the beach, though. The book put value into family and had a bit of a social conscience. It read a little young and the dialogue was sometimes odd. Every once in a while I’ll read a book and have to restyle people because they’re dressed so bizarrely (I’m lookin’ at you, Stephanie Plum characters). With this book, I had to reword their conversations—honestly, if I were to get winked at that much in conversation I would be totally weirded out. It could have vibed made-for-Disney-channel (well, more so than it did), but the story was solid. It wrapped up nicely, but wasn’t all puppies and rainbows. There’s more to come and I’ll be checking out the next one.
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