April Book Group Read: Isabelle

Hi everyone!!!  Are we ready to talk about this month’s book group read?  Let’s get started!

This months book was Isabelle by Laurence Yep.  In case you didn’t know, Isabelle was the Girl Of The Year for 2014.  She’s a dancer who has recently been accepted in a performing arts school where her sister attends, and unfortunately, finds herself living in the shadow of her big sister, also a talented dancer.

I’ll be honest, I hadn’t read this book prior to this, probably because the subject matter didn’t interest me. I wasn’t a dancer when I was younger, and I didn’t have any friends who were either, so it was a story I couldn’t relate to at all. However, there were some aspects to the dance side of the story that I did really like! I especially liked the positive idea of how everyone is an individual and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others when it comes to our talents. As I read the book, I was continually thinking about the 80’s TV Show “Fame”, picturing the busy hallways and all of the different kids throughout the school, developing their artistic talents. And I loved the Washington DC references! My husband and I have been to Washington many times, and the descriptions of the different places were easy for me to picture in my mind as I read because of that. Washington DC is a wonderful place to visit, and I have to admit that I have always been a bit envious of anyone who lives in the area and can visit on a regular basis. So much to see and do, and I thought that was well represented throughout several parts of the book.

What I didn’t like–how the book started with a negative encounter between Isabelle and Renata. I would have rather had more development about Isabelle and Luisa at the beginning with the issues between Isabelle and Renata occurring later on. I also didn’t like how the book ended with Isabelle questioning her ability yet again. I realize it was probably done that way to encourage the reader to make sure they picked up the second book, but I didn’t care for the way it was presented.  Too much emphasis on negativity, and that bothered me.

I was also very surprised, in our politically correct culture to find that Isabelle’s sister and her group were going to be dancing as “gypsies”. Gypsy is one of those words that has a negative connotation in regards to a certain group of people known as the Romani, and for some members of that group, can be considered highly offensive. When I got to that part of the book I have to admit that I was a bit stunned. There were so many cultural and ethnic references throughout the book, not sure how this one got through.  They could have made the group as something else that wouldn’t have offended anyone. Not one of the best decisions on the part of whoever greenlights the books at American Girl.

My final take on the book is that I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I felt sort of middle of the road about it and I definitely did not enjoy it as much as I have some of the other American Girl books. I doubt I will take the time to look for the 2nd book in the series, although if I come across it at a yard sale or thrift store in my travels, I might pick it up.

What did you think of Isabelle?

Next month we will be discussing Meet Marie-Grace. June we will read Lea and July will be Rebecca.

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Meet Zara!

I’m sure if you are a regular reader of this blog, you noticed a new girl on the block.  Yes, she’s mine, and yes, she’s an Isabelle doll.  Here’s the whole story:

When I first saw the pictures of Isabelle from AG, I wasn’t all that impressed.  She was just another doll made from the classic face mold.  The photos at the AG website weren’t the most flattering.  Nor was the hairstyle that they had her in.  Her story didn’t appeal to me at all either, I was never in to ballet.  Over the year, I’d seen a lot of pictures of her and I have to say she grew on me.  But I was still on the fence.  I’d already spent enough on dolls for the year too, but as the end of the year approached, I was starting to think I might like to get her.

The morning of December 10th was a game changer.  We always watch the Today show and I was in the bathroom when my husband said “Oh great, they are doing an American Girl offer on Jill’s Steals and Deals!”  I think after he said it he was wishing he had kept his mouth shut.  Of course I watched until it came on, I was all logged in and ready to go, and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the offer:  Isabelle, her cat Tutu and her accessories set for $68! (Regular price $172)  It was one of those mornings that I was glad I am a very fast typist, I was in and had her ordered in no time.  I was hoping I hadn’t made a mistake in ordering her, but at that price and savings, I had a zillion options.

In case you didn’t order it, or you aren’t familiar with how American Girl offers through Jill’s Steals and Deals works-when you are invoiced, they actually break it down by item, showing what the item actually cost after the discount (this time around it was 60%).  The price for just Isabelle-$47.43.  Yeah, that’s right, I got an American Girl doll for just under $48.  I felt like I’d won the flipping lottery.  Tutu ended up being $8.72 (regular price $22) and the accessories $11.85 (regular price $30).  Great deals the whole way around, and if I decided I didn’t want any of it, I could definitely sell off pieces and get my money back.  Made my day.

When she arrived, I opened her very carefully since I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep her.  She’s going nowhere.  I think she is so pretty, even if she is the same old original face mold.  I’m not sure if it’s the shading on her face, the hair and eye color combination or what, but I think she is very, very pretty.   And I’m not usually a fan of blonde dolls either, so that says a lot.  I still didn’t like her story though, and I wasn’t sold on her name either.  So I started thinking about things I liked when I was a kid, and who I thought she looked like, etc.  Then it hit me-she looks like Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Zara did at that age, and it all fell in place.  And that’s how she became Zara, a horse crazy girl with a sister named Abby.  I never cared much for the name Saige, so this gave me a great opportunity to rename her too, but I kept some of her original story because I did like it.

Isabelle 1Isabelle 2
Natural Light
Isabelle 3Isabelle 4
On camera flash
Here are a couple of shots I took of her, 2 with natural light and 2 with on camera flash so you can get an idea of how she looks. The light at the moment is crappy, so I apologize. (I hate winter!)

A close up of her eyes, I think they are so pretty!
Isabelle 5

The only thing I wish had been available was the option to get her with her ears pierced. But, that gives me an excuse to have to take a trip to Columbus I guess!  After this experience and Marie-Grace, I’ve definitely learned to not rely on the photos on the AG website when deciding if I like a doll or not, which is why I’m reserving my judgment on Grace at the moment.  Hopefully I will get to see her sometime in the next couple of months and make my decision.  I need another doll like I need another hole in my head though.  We’ll see…