Title: Where I Belong
Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Publication Date: February 8, 2011
The recession affects everybody differently. For Corrinne, her entire life changes. When her dad loses his job and all their savings, Corrinne is sent, along with her younger brother, to Broken Spoke, Texas to live with their grandparents. But the transition from her urban, designer life to her new manual labor-filled one, doesn't go smoothly. As she rediscovers familial relationships and weaves through a new life, she even finds a little love...but sometimes in the wrong places.
Where I Belong is a humorous, light read filled with a rich Texan cultural atmosphere and endearing, eccentric characters. The realism merged into the novel flies off each page with adept cultural references and realistic circumstances. The recession plays a large part in the novel; it becomes the catalyst that further amplifies Corrinne's [whiny] attitude and really contributes to the authenticity of the plot. The concept of material objects and the value of family are truly emphasized by the friendly, familial setting of Broken Spoke, Texas, making for a thoughtful, relaxing read.
Despite Corrine's snobby attitude from the very beginning, her resilience manifests when she is thrown to different situations; her ability to cope with her volatile environment. The contrast between her previous and her current lifestyle is apparent with the blatant cultural and traditional references made between Broken Spoke and New York. Here, Corrinne is at a liminal stage in life; she is at the threshold between two very different lifestyles, and she is a teenager; stuck between her childhood and adulthood. In her time in Texas, Corrinne's metamorphosis is clear as she gradually falls for not only Bubby, but also the whole town of Broken Spoke.
Where I Belong embodies a warm, friendly tone with an entertaining cast of charming characters that will surely pull many heartstrings. Heasley writes with fun and hilarity in mind, and contrives a sweet, sensitive air throughout the novel. The characters, along with their quirky names and personalities, will surely captivate hearts. Although not quite as memorable, Where I Belong still proves to be a pleasant, witty read.
At its core, Where I Belong is a heartfelt novel that explores life, family, and friendship. It portrays life at its best, and at its worst. This novel conveys that happiness is a state of mind; it doesn't matter where you are or how much money you have. All that matters is the people around you and the ability to adapt. Readers will encounter different life lessons in this meaningful, fun, contemporary novel.
The Bottom Line: A realistic debut.
My reaction/enjoyment: 8/10
Total Score: 79/100 (B)