Released: April 10th
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
Izzie hasn't always had an easy life, but she was happy with it. Her mother died when she was ten, leaving her to care for her aging grandmother. But when the social worker deems it time to put Grams in a nursing home, Izzie is off to live with her only surviving relatives and her whole life is turned upside down. Leaving her favorite boardwalk life behind, she now lives in a mansion, attends a fancy private school, and is surrounded by more money and what it can buy than she ever thought possible.
I thought the concept from Belles was great - take girl from supposedly the wrong side of the tracks and implant her in the lifestyles of the rich and the famous and see what happens. As predicted, it didn't exactly go well. Her cousin is less than welcoming and all the popular girls at school soon freeze her out. Turns out being rich is harder than being poor, but I was proud of Izzie for staying strong.
Izzie was definitely an admirable character and while we can all learn a little something from her, I found her cousin Mira to be much more interesting. Mira ran hot and cold; at times I felt like she wanted to help her cousin and at times I felt she'd rather freeze her out like everyone else. The journey Mira takes in this novel is pretty significant and makes it worth reading.
The only thing that struck me as odd during the novel was Izzie's treatment of Grams. It's obvious she really loved her grandmother by the way she put up a fight about putting her in the home, but after she must leave Grams, there is no scene where she goes back to visit, she only thinks about visiting. I thought that was a little strange and hopefully there will be a visit in the next novel.
Belles is like a Southern-style Gossip Girl, and everyone knows those Southern girls can bite. If you love YA contemporaries about Mean Girls gone meaner, this is a book for you! Definitely give it a look before the sequel, Winter White, comes out in October.