Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

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.

Where I Belong is not the book I thought it would be. When I saw the cover, I thought it would be a cute cowgirl/cowboy story, so I was a bit disappointed when the book was more like rich girl moves to Texas because of the recession and hates it story. It reminded me of the Hannah Montana Movie, when Hannah’s forced to go to the place her dad grew up because she was getting out of control as Hannah. I found the novel disappointing. I wanted to love it, but it’s hard to enjoy a book when the main character is so annoying. Corrinne is one of the most selfish people ever and I just wanted to give her a shake. There’s much worse that can happen in a recession than merely having to move to Texas! People lose everything and don’t have anything at all to fall back on and Corrinne’s selfishness and inability to see that, despite not having everything she did have, she did still have some things really annoyed me.

There were some good things about the novel – I loved Corrinne’s grandparents and I loved the town of Broken Spoke (despite Corrinne’s constant complaining). All of the characters bar Corrinne were lovely and I really liked Kitsy and Bubby, two classmates of Corrinne. Kitsy, Bubby, Tripp and Corrinne’s grandparents made the novel for me. If they hadn’t been in the novel, I’d have given up pretty early on because Corrinne was the type of character that had just walked off the set of Gossip Girl. I can understand her upset at being moved so far away, but not being able to go to Kent is hardly a life-or-death situation and the way Corrinne acted was just too OTT for me. I wanted her to get some perspective and stop thinking “me, me, me” all of the time. It’s the other characters who saved the novel, I swear. Kitsy was excellent and I would quite happily read a novel about her and about Bubby and everyone else in Broken Spokes because despite Corrinne’s negativity, I liked the sound of the small town, the cosyness of it all.

Corrinne’s transformation came a bit late in the day for me. She did get less whiney as the novel moved on, but it wasn’t really enough to save her. I just ended up rolling my eyes at her sudden change of heart about Texas. It didn’t ring true. However, one thing I will say, is that I liked her attitude toward the Rodeo, that was a highlight of the novel for me. I did find the ending to be a surprise. It was all coming together then it all just stopped. We get thrown one curveball and then… it ended. No argument over what happened, no change of heart, nothing. Just gone. Done. Finished. It was like the author had gotten fed up of writing it so just stopped. It’s one of the most horrible endings I think I’ve ever read. I’m not asking for much, but I like to know what’s happened to characters at the end of a novel, and I really felt Heasley could have spent just a few more pages wrapping it all up properly. An epilogue would have worked a treat.

Overall Where I Belong wasn’t what I expected. The title is actually rather ironic considering how the book ends. Another bugbear about the novel was the way it was written. Not once did Heasley use “I’m”, it was always “I am” and I’m sorry, but after the first fifty times of hearing a teenager say “I am getting ready” it got annoying. No teenager – heck, no person – I know says “I am” or “you are”, they use the contractions of “I’m” and “you’re” and it didn’t help the novel. It made the novel sound older than it was, made Corrinne sound like an adult and it was quite unnecessary. I have no idea why an editor would let that fly, because not once did anybody use “I’m” it was always “I am” and I know it’s nitpicky, but things like that stand out to me and they drive me mad. I found myself consistently editing it to make it sound more like a teenage novel because the formality of “I am” totally ruined the writing for me. It’s a shame, really. From the outside Where I Belong looked like a cute, kitschy cowgirl/cowboy novel but it wasn’t and it was ruined by an overly spoiled teenager, although there were bright points in the form of Corrinne’s family and the friends she makes in Broken Spokes.

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