Before we get started with The Belles, I have a question. What other YA or children’s books can you think of that deal with beauty standards and body image? I’d like to make a list.
This is another instance when I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cover that looks like this one. At least, I haven’t seen one like this is in my reading experience. Black girl done up like a debutante? I have to know what this is about.
In case you don’t know, here’s a run down of the plot of The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton from (Amazon):
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.
But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite, the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orleans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land.
But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie, that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.
With the future of Orleans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide: save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles, or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.
After the cover, I did find the premise interesting. I mean, the subtle art of offering commentary about the toxicity of beauty standards? Sure. I’ll go with that. Here’s my Sticky Note Review:
#bookaday The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. #SNRtbs I loved The Belles. Ball gowns and debutantes are so far from my experience, that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to connect with the characters, but I did. It was a little slow to start for me; it took me a minute to settle into the conflict. But once I did, I didn't want to put it down. There's obvious commentary here about beauty standards and the pain some people go through to live up to those standards, but it's not done in a way that feels heavy handed at all. I loved that the predictions I made early on were off the mark, but right enough to make me feel clever. I think I'd like the second one now, please.
If you have thoughts about The Belles, or an answer to my question above, leave it in the comments and I’ll see you there soon.
Until then, happy reading and don’t forget to be awesome.