Author: Jen Calonita
About: 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. 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.
I added Belles to my February TBR because I was looking for red and pink books to read and I'm super glad I did. I get parents in all the time that look for YA on the younger side and this is the perfect book to recommend, I'm so happy that I (finally) read it. Let's jump right in...
Izzie grew up in a poor beach community with her grandmother who had somewhat recently been diagnosed with alzheimer's. Her mom died when she was ten and never told anyone who Izzie's father was, so when her grandmother started getting sick Izzie took on the role of caretaker. Now, though, she's too sick for her to take care of on her own. It turns out that grandma did some digging after her diagnosis and found a long lost uncle (lol ok) that was willing to take Izzie in. He is hella rich (a Senator I think), has three kids of his own, and lives in a community that's super judge-y. Izzie is thrown into this country club world where designer gowns are a necessity and there's some kind of event every other night. This totally sounds familiar...
Yes! Anyway, Izzie gets along really well with Hayden, her uncle's son. Like, I almost feel like there should be romantic tension, but I also think they're probably actually half brother and sister. Wait, I think maybe he was adopted so if her uncle does turn out to be her dad it will probably not be a problem. Awesome. Mira is Izzie's age and therefore cannot be friendly towards her because it would wreck her status with her heinous best friend Savannah. I really liked Mira when she was not around Savannah. She grew up privileged, but still wasn't able to do all the things she wanted to - she's into art, but needs to spend her free time doing things that look good for her dad's campaign. Also, who has time to do art when you have to be at someone's beck and call every minute of the day? Whenever Mira is around Savannah I want to smack some sense into her. She loses most of her personality and becomes a yes-man or totally silent.
Savannah can't stand Izzie and basically leads the campaign against her: coming up with crazy hazing schemes when she makes the swim team, sabotaging Izzie's fundraiser, etc, etc. Also, Izzie totally has a secret connection to Savannah's boyfriend Braydon from her old town which infuriates Savannah. Mira's put in a tough spot - side with her horrible best friend or her new cousin, who has done literally nothing to deserve all the shitty treatment she's getting.
While I don't think the plot is really anything new, I found Belles to be a really enjoyable read. The characters are really interesting and who doesn't love some southern charm? There's a pretty predictable reveal at the end (he is her dad), but even though I guessed it early on it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book at all. I'm definitely planning on continuing with the series.