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 life 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, Isabelle finds out a secret about her new family that she can't ignore.I really enjoyed getting to know the two "belles": Isabelle and Mirabelle. I love the juxtaposition of their histories and discovering the things they actually do have in common as well. And I love that we discover those similarities at the same time that the girls do. I thought that the characters were fun and loved the range. To me, Belles reminded me of Gossip Girl season one set in the South, with Mira's friends being the Upper East Siders and Izzie's friends being the Brooklynite Humphries – and yet with so much more depth. There was one point mid-way through the book that I found myself choked up and my eyes filled with tears. I did not see that one coming and at that point realized that I was totally invested in these characters' lives.
I hope you get a chance to pick up a copy soon as it just hit bookshelves! Also, come meet Jen herself, along with me and three other Little Brown Young Readers authors at a book reading/signing at the Upper East Side Barnes & Noble on May 16 at 7pm. (cross streets are 86th between Lexington & 3rd Ave)
And you can find Jen on Twitter, Facebook, and at her website.