Monday, January 3, 2011

Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

Title: Where I Belong
Author: Gwendolyn Heasley
Pages: 304
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: February 8, 2011

Corrinne Corcoran’s upscale Manhattan life is perfectly on track—until her father announces he’s been laid off and she’s shipped off to Broken Spoke, Texas, to live with her grandparents. All alone in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the glamorous life she’s supposed to be living. But as she grudgingly adjusts—making new friends and finding romance along the way—this city girl begins to realize that life without credit cards and shopping sprees may not be as bad as it seems....

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.

---Field Report---
Originality: 6/10
Ending: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Plot: 8/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 8/10
Theme: 9/10
Imagery: 8/10
Setting: 5/5
Voice: 4/5
Style: 4/5
Tone: 3/5
Cover: 9/10
Total Score: 79/100 (B)

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Pam Harris January 3, 2011 at 9:20 PM  

Thanks for the review. I love how you break down the scores. :)

Chapter Chicks January 4, 2011 at 12:21 AM  

I agree with Pam, it is really cool to see so many things being put into the rating. Not just, hmm I liked it, so it gets a five hundred! I break down my ratings too, but not in so many categories.

Good review, I'll definitely be checking this one out.

(Arya) Paige January 4, 2011 at 12:52 AM  

This isn't normally the type of thing I would read but the cover caught my eye and your review is amazing!


A Canadian Girl January 4, 2011 at 3:35 AM  

Great review. I have this one on my wishlist but hadn't heard much about it yet.

Kelsey January 4, 2011 at 4:50 AM  

I just finished this yesterday and really enjoyed it :) Nice review!

Tales of Whimsy January 8, 2011 at 10:29 PM  

This sounds so delightful :)

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