Released: February 8th, 2011
Grade rating: B+
Meet Corrinne. She's living every girl's dream in New York City—shopping sprees at Barneys, open access to the best clubs and parties, and her own horse at the country club. Her perfect life is perfectly on track. At least it was... When Corrinne's father is laid off, her world suddenly falls apart. Instead of heading to boarding school, she's stripped of her credit cards and shipped off to the boonies of Texas to live with her grandparents. On her own in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the life she's supposed to be living. She doesn't care who she stomps on in the process. But when Corrinne makes an unlikely friend and discovers a total hottie at work, she begins to wonder if her life B.R.—before the recession—was as perfect as it seemed.Review:
Until last week, I had heard absolutely nothing about this book. Not a word. Then I saw it in Kristi at The Story Siren's In My Mailbox post, and I bought it straight away. I mean, just look at the cover... does this book not scream HOT TEXAN COWBOY?! Why yes, yes it does. And there are! I must own any book set in Texas that features boys wearing cowboy boots as they stroll around fields saying "Y'all". It's a rule.
Where I Belong is fresh and funny, and full of Texan charm. It also reminded me of Melissa Walker's Lovestruck Summer, which is a book I almost proposed to in 2009. (Seriously, I was *this* close). I have a mini fascination with stories about people moving to new states or just Texas in general, though I have never (and probably will never - I'm scared of flying) been there. I don't know much about the state, but I am an avid Friday Night Lights fan. That show has taught me a lot, including how important football is to Texans, and how Friday night is usually spent watching the games. I also know there are lots of fields and a cool accent, but that's about as far as my knowledge goes. Unless you want to know what kind of jeans Tim Riggins wears...
My point is that I love learning about different places in the US. Things across the pond are so different to here in the UK, and Gwendolyn Heasley does a brilliant job of setting the scene. I felt I was actually in Texas with Corrinne, preparing for rodeos and driving a truck like something out of Twilight. Talking of Corrinne, our dear protagonist, I didn't like her at first. She's like Blair Waldorf in the heart of NYC, with bitchy friends and more money than sense. When her father loses everything in the recession, she's forced to leave her whole life behind, and move to Broken Spoke, Texas. Boys there are called Bubby and Rider, there's no mall and *gasp* money is earned by working. If ever there was a fall from grace, this is it.
Just like Texas grew on Corrinne, she grew on me. I ended up really liking her, not least because she actually evolves and accepts her situation. She makes a few friends, gets a job and realises that money isn't everything. The end was kind of a cliffhanger and I have questions left, dammit. What happened after the final page? Will I ever find out? A sequel has been set up perfectly, and I hope one is already in the works. I want to find out what happens to Corrinne!
I very rarely mention grammar in my reviews but in this case I feel the need to, as it affected my reading experience. Instead of using contractions like "I'm" and "we're" etc., almost every instance of these words being used in thoughts or dialogue is written as "I am" or "we are". It really bothered me, and slowed the sentences down. Most of the dialogue was coming from teenagers who would abbreviate anyway, but by talking this way they lost their realism. It came across as too formal and grammatically correct, which just didn't work in this context. I don't know if I've made sense here, but I hope I have.
Overall, Where I Belong is a fun, light read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to fans of contemporary fiction along the lines of Elizabeth Scott and Jenny Han. It isn't quite as established or deep as these authors' books, but it's equally as readable. I love nothing better than discovering new books through the blogging community, and this is one example of word of mouth working well and helping me find a new author to enjoy. Two thumbs up!