Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Where I Belong (Heasley)

AUTHOR: Gwendolyn Heasley
SERIES: , book 1
PUBLICATION DATE: February 8, 2011
ISBN: 9780061978845
PAGES: 289
SOURCE: purchased ebook
GENRE: realistic, contemporary
SETTING: New York City and Broken Spoke, Texas (fictional small town)
SUMMARY: 16-year old Corrinne lives a posh life in fabulous New York City. Together with her best friend Wheatley, Corrinne attends the finest private school, shops at the most expensive department stores, and rubs elbows with New York's most affluent teens. But when an investment deal goes bad, Corrinne's family suddenly finds themselves with nothing. Corrinne and her 12-year old brother Tripp are shipped off to grandparents they barely know in a small town they've never heard of--Broken Spoke, Texas. Far from New York's bright lights, Corrinne must attend public school for the first time, learn to drive an old jallopy truck, and land her first job.

WHAT I LIKED: I loved this! It's kind of like Clueless meets Disney's Cars. For a little while there, Corrinne isn't really all that likeable. She's rude to her family, a terrible big sister, and shallow, shallow, shallow. But over time, Corrinne finds the real person she is meant to be. The romance is very slow-building, which I always love. I also enjoyed many laugh-out-loud moments.

The character-building is fantastic. Tripp, who adapts to Texas life very easily, is the cutest and sweetest 12-year old brother ever. Corrinne's grandpa reminds me of Tow-Mater in Cars--so adorable. Corrinne and Waverly remind me of Cher and Deonne in Clueless--all their little New York sayings and acronyms and "clueless" sarcasm. Potential love interest Bubby is a sweet, good ol' boy, and who wouldn't want a best friend like Kitsy?

It's well-paced. I was immersed in Corrinne's voice and story right from the first few pages. I read the whole thing in one sitting.

This story makes me miss Texas! And Sonic!

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: So overall, I loved this book, but I must say that both the Texas and New York characters are a bit stereotyped. I lived in Fort Worth, TX for 18 years. While I may have met a small handful of people with "weird" Texas names (Twila is really the only one I can think of right now, but I'm sure there were others), the vast majority of the people I knew and students I taught had traditional names like Megan and Taylor and Justin and Alex. We had a more Hispanic influence in names than anything else. My point here is, nearly every Texas-born character in this book has a "Texas" name--Kitsy, Billy Bo, Jenny Jo, Bubby, Hands, Rider, Ginger. Maybe it's this way in very small Texas towns, but based on my 18 years as a Texan, it wasn't my experience at all.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Absolutely adorable and highly recommended.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: In my international library, I focus on selecting as many international titles and authors as I can. I would love to get this and may at some point, but it isn't a priority purchase at this time. At my middle school library in Texas, this would have been a no-brainer.

READALIKES: Can't Look Away (Cooner); Deep in the Heart of High School (Goldbach)

  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 4/5
  • Characters: 5/5--LOVE the characters!
  • Engrossing: 5/5--read in one sitting
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

  • Language: mild-moderate; sh** but no F-bombs
  • Sexuality: mild; a couple of references to "hooking up"; a couple of kissing scenes
  • Violence: none
  • Drugs/Alcohol: medium-high; normalization of teen drinking--teens drink in New York regularly, get served alcohol in restaurants, have fake IDs. In the Texas settings, multiple field parties feature lots of teen drinking.

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