Thursday, August 8, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Belinda's Ring by Corrina Chong

Belinda's RingsHalf-Asian teenager Grace (but she’d prefer it if you called her “Gray” instead) is dead set on becoming a marine biologist rather than being anything like her mother, Belinda. She’d leave that role to her sister Jess instead, who’s a supermom-in-the-making.

Belinda herself is somewhat obsessed as well, by crop circle books and imagery, and abruptly runs out on her family, flying across the Atlantic in order to study the real thing in the English countryside. Grace and her sister are left alone to take care of the house, their rapidly-deteriorating stepfather, and their peculiar little brother, Squid - goodreads synopsis.

I was skeptical to read this. Not based on what it was about. I actually probably would have been drawn to it based on the cover alone. I was skeptical because first off I never even heard about it until my mom started ranting and raving about it. And why she was raving about it? My childhood friends sister (who used to live on the same street) wrote it. You know what that means? I actually know a published author! I mean, thats pretty cool. (and yes I use the term very loosely) Secondly, I felt like I had this huge obligation to like it based on the fact that I 'know' the author. So when it came time to read it for book club I was hesitant but still excited, I mean look at that cover!

Now that that is out of the way. What did I think? I liked it. It wasn't the best book I've read this yer but for a first time novel. Corrina did a fantastic job.  Her writing style is the type I like, being that she writes how she would talk. It is very believable and you get an understanding of what life is like for Gray.

I try not to look in the mirror too much, because I feel like I never see what I actually look like. I see what my brain thinks I look like, but it's different than what I actually look like. You know when you see yourself on video or in a picture and you think, Ew, is that really what I look like?

The novel focuses on Gray. She is a typical intorvert Calgarian teenager. Gray is trying to fit in at school, help raise her step-brother Squid, and trying to get along with her older sister who thinks she is the second coming.

Side note: this book is based in Calgary, and being a Calgarian/Canadian I understood a lot of the geography and terms (LRT for example). I can see that if you aren't from around here you may get lost in it and push aside a lot of the descriptions. Side Side Note: I loved the  Len T. Wong part. Len T. Wong is a real estate person, and his adds are everywhere. I also have countless times seen this graffiti.
Creatures from the Mariana Trench
The other part of the story is focused on Belinda. The mother. She decided to take a break from her family and travel to England (her mother land) to study crop circles. While some may see this as selfish, I think its great. Just because you have kids doesn't mean that you should give up on your hobbies and interest. Yes she failed big time in the fact that she left them without much guidance or knowing how long she would be gone for.

All the characters in the novel are flawed. They all have selfish tendencies and mixed in with the way Chong wrote the novel, ist what makes it so relatable. And with the duality of point of views tells a great story and gets you to like each of the characters in their own light.

One critique I have is the ending. I feel like it just ended. I wanted to know more about Belinda and her sister, more about the crop circles. I wanted to  know more about Squid. I guess you could add this to my Top Ten list of books I want to see a sequel too. I also love the duality of the meaning of Belinda's Ring.  You just have to read it to find out I suppose!

Belinda's Ring is a great first novel for Corrina. I do recommend it. Its not a newfound plot nor does it have a huge climatic ending, but it was honest.

Oh and you may be wondering why are there pictures of various sea creatures? Well because thorughout the novel, you get little snippets of information abotu various squids and fish. Which the biology nerd inside me loved. And its not like its out of place. Gray wants to be a marine biologist. And I think they are pretty cool looking!

4 stars!

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