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Belles is a YA contemporary fiction novel by Jen Calonita.

Isabelle “Izzie” Scott loves Harborside, even if most of the rest of North Carolina considers it the ghetto of their state. She knows better, having been born and raised there. She loves her lifeguard job and her surfing lessons from the cute and mysterious guy she’s gotten friendly with over the summer. She’s got friends here. This is where she lived with her Mom, before she died. This is where she’s been living with her Grandmother.

But her Grandmother’s failing health has gotten the attention of a social worker, and Izzie’s life is about to change. Overnight she’s informed her grandmother had made provisions for when she got worse for her to go to a nursing home and Izzie to go live with long-lost relatives that she only recently located.

Izzie’s in for a culture shock when she finds her broken heart transported to a politician’s home, apparently her uncle, where he lives with his wife and two kids. They have money – lots of it. And their location is in Emerald Cove, which feels extremely far away from Harborside. Izzie just wants to go home.

Mirabelle is sixteen, like Izzie. She’s trying to make her new cousin’s transition smooth but she’s frustrated with her gloominess. She’s got her own friends and boyfriend that she’s busy with without having to do a personality makeover on Izzie, too. She tries to be patient, but it’s difficult. Mirabelle didn’t know she was going to be sharing her home with a girl her age, either.

Behind Emerald Cove’s welcoming Southern smile, however, Izzie is not truly welcome. And the backstabbing, gossiping, and rumors that rumble beneath the surface are about to turn to wildfire.

Because there’s a secret no one knows yet. One that will change both Izzie and Mirabelle forever…

Belles started a little cookie-cutter, teen-movie-esque for me, but I was hopeful for more. It has a breezy, salt water air, summer feel to it, which I liked, but it was still coming across as cliché and predictable early on.

Good thing I didn’t give up!

Despite the rocky start (for me, personally), the frothy, easy read did begin to gain a bit more substance and – most importantly in a book like Belles – juiciness. Though perhaps not a unique concept, I found myself rooting for Izzie and beginning to really enjoy the story.

Once I let it take me on its rather unrealistic but heartily entertaining tale, I noticed and loved all the Harry Potter references and found Belles to be delightful and satisfying on so many levels.

Belles is a fun, romantic, good-natured book to soak up.

And now I really want the sequel – at least we don’t have to wait long. From what I’ve heard, it’ll be out later this year and called Winter White!

*I received a review copy of Belles from Hachette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.


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