But with cotillion season right around the corner, Izzie and Mira have barely had time to process their newfound sisterhood. Mira has dreamed of making her debut in a gorgeous white gown forever-now, if only she could find an escort. Izzie, meanwhile, is still struggling to find her place in Emerald Cove and it's seeming ever more impossible with EC mean-girls, young and old, doing their best to keep her down. As cotillion preparations heat up, though, there are dance steps to learn, manners to perfect... and secret initiations to complete? As if sophomore year wasn't hard enough!
Last year, I was thrilled to learn that one of my favorite YA authors, Jen Calonita, had written a book for a new series called Belles. (Actually the first book in the series was also called BELLES and you can read my review here.) Both Booking Daughter and I were big fans of her Secrets of My Hollywood Life books, and we were sad to see the series end after six very fun books.
The second installment of the Belles series is titled WINTER WHITE, and it picks up right where BELLES left off. (This summary is going to be very cryptic because I don't want to give away any spoilers!) It begins when Isabelle and Mirabelle are trying to accept the fact that their relationship isn't what they were originally led to believe. The press is going wild with the scandal, and both girls are doing their best to present a happy face to the public. But privately, they both are having a hard time accepting the news; and it gets even worse when their seemingly private conversations are being leaked to the media.
Fortunately, Mirabelle has something else to focus on -- cotillion! And while cotillions aren't exactly Isabelle's "thing," she agrees to participate too. That means both girls are heavily involved in the secret initiation activities and spending a lot of time with the other debs. Mirabelle is determined to the perfect white dress, learn to dance, acquire the "right" escort, and say the right things; while Isabelle is just trying to find her way in the exclusive community of Emerald Cove.
As both girls struggle to accept all of the changes in their lives, there is one benefit -- they find themselves becoming closer to each other; however, their relationship with the rest of the family (namely Dad/Uncle Bill) seems to be suffering. Can Mirabelle and Isabelle handle all of the stresses between their family, cotillion, mean girls, BFFs, school, and even guys, and find a way to be happy?
Booking Daughter and I truly enjoyed WINTER WHITE. Many of the reasons were the same including a fun story, great characters, and even a few surprise twists --just wait until you read the last page! However, I suspect that there were also a few different ones. Booking Daughter just loves chick lit! By that I mean, she enjoys fun YA books about girls and the relationships they share with each other as well as their parents and boys. WINTER WHITE definitely fit the bill and kept her interest, and she's already clamoring for the third book THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER which comes out in April 2013 (I don't know if she's going to make it!)
I happen to agree with her that WINTER WHITE was a very fun book. It was full of all those girl things that made me cringe in middle school and high school like issues with parents, friend problems, mean girls, peer pressure, and crushes. I have no doubt that today's tweens and teens will relate to certain aspects of these characters lives -- heck I can still remember all of those emotions. However, as a mother, I also like that this book is clean and that there are a few solid messages woven into the story. I don't think Ms. Calonita hits the reader over the head with any of her messages, but there are some nice ones in the story including the importance of family, friendship, trust, and forgiveness. Furthermore, I love that my daughter doesn't get uncomfortable reading this author's books!
WINTER WHITE would make for a very fun book club discussion for tweens or even mother/daughter groups. I wasn't able to find a formal discussion guide, but I can guarantee that girls will find loads to talk about -- from the Belles behavior, to issues with friends, parents, and boys, to whether the girls should forgive their Dad/Uncle Bill. Some of topics that might warrant some discussion include loss, new beginnings, friendship, trust, secrets, honesty, following one's heart, peer pressure, and forgiveness.
Overall, I really enjoyed WINTER WHITE and I am positive that tweens and teens are going to to be able to relate to some of the characters and events in this story. Definitely recommended for fans of Secrets of My Hollywood Life books as well as fans of YA books with loads of girl drama!
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.