Title: Belles (Belles #1)
Author: Jen Calonita
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Source: ARC from Publisher
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 wrier 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.
Before I started reading Belles I had seen it floating around the blogosphere, but I hadn't read any reviews. So I didn't really know what to expect going in, but this book took me completely by surprised. It was a fantastic read and one that I didn't expect to love as much as I did.
Isabelle Scott was perfectly happy living with her grandmother in Harborside and working as a lifeguard on the beach. But when her grandmother's condition worsens quickly, Izzie is forced to move in with an aunt and uncle she has never met. Izzie's world is turned upside down and she doesn't know how seh's supposed to fit in to the glamorous world of Emerald Cove. And things aren't made any easier by Izzie's cousin Mirabelle and her friends. Both girls don't like that the other is now a part of her life and work together. And then there are all the secrets, one of which will change their lives forever.
Like I said, going into Belles I didn't really know what to expect and the book ended up taking me completely by surprise. I had originally decided to pick up the book because of the approaching release date, but then I got completely dragged into the story. There was just something about the way Jen Calonita wrote the story in Belles that made it so I couldn't put the book down. The story itself was told in the third person, alternating between Izzie's and Mira's perspectives. I think that is what made the book so addicting because I just wanted to know what the other girl was up to.
The story revolved around both Isabelle and Mirabelle and I felt like I really got to know both girls really well because of the way the story was told. With Izzie it was always more or less obvious why she did the things she did but with Mira it wasn't quite as obvious. Having part of the story told from her perspective really helped me understand her better and see that she wasn't a bad person at heart, she just had bad people around her. At the end of the day both girls had their reasons for doing what they did and, considering the situation they were thrown into, it was all kind of understandable. And you now, the boys weren't too bad either. The only thing was that I kept getting Hayden and Brayden confused because of the similar names.
Belles was a fantastic read and the perfect contemporary book. I absolutely loved what Jen Calonita did with these characters and this story. I can't wait for more of both in Winter White, coming this fall.