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Belle and the Beau

by Beverly E. Jenkins

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1275174,636 (3.74)3
Sixteen-year-old escaped slave Belle Palmer finally finds freedom with the Best family in Michigan, and as she settles into her new life, she attracts the attention of the Best's promising son Daniel, who is engaged to another.
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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I enjoyed this quite a bit.
This is a YA novel and perfect for middle school age. Even grade school if they are advanced enough readers. I read The Color Purple in 5th grade so I'm always bad at judging age appropriateness. ( )
  LoisSusan | Dec 10, 2020 |
Republished under the name Belle, Belle and the Beau tells the story of Belle Palmer, an escaped slave who is taken in by a family of free blacks -- the Bests -- in Michigan. Belle must learn to adjust to free life and the idea that she can make her own choices and pursue her own goals. Belle and the Beau is part of a series of books (Avon True Romance) written by multiple authors, and reads as the hack job it most likely is.

Basically, there is only one circumstance that would make this book worth while to read, and that is as an American history companion in a 5th or 6th grade class. It is (heavily) peppered with facts from the era (Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Frederick Douglass' Paper, various Af. Am. firsts, etc), but the way they are worked into the story is fairly lazy. It really seems as if Jenkins took a history lesson from a text book and put names to it. Everything is done fairly shallowly, and though it may help some students connect to the time a bit, there are much more worthwhile reads out there that work in the facts unobtrusively and realistically instead of resting them on the surface.

The writing too seems very lazy. It felt at times like I was reading a literature Mad Lib. So many of the sentences were set up the same way, with minor details changed: a fill-in-the-blank book. EVERYTIME a character made a joke or said anything remotely funny/sarcastic/etc., Jenkins would write "s/he cracked." Apparently the only way to tell a joke is to crack. Also, the only way to show mock anger is to plant one balled fist on one out-thrust hip. Everything seemed so half-hearted and churned out and formulaic. Even though Belle is an escaped slave living very near fugitive slave catchers, there is never any real sense of danger or tension. Every character is one-dimensional and cheesy. I feel like a traitor; this was written by someone from my region (which is why I read it), but Jenkins could have done a much better job and put a bit more heart and thought into this book. I don't know what age she was aiming for, but there is no excuse: there is a difference between simple and bad. ( )
  BookRatMisty | Apr 12, 2011 |
I might not have the correct starting date for this book, I forgot to enter that. Belle was a very good read. I'm glad my book club decided on it because it's a step out of my usual reading area. I confess that I don't usually read books with African American characters. I was also reminded of my love for "proper lady like" stuff. The dresses and the mannors and all that. I'm not much of a girly-girl myself but I have always admired that sort of thing.
As far as keeping in time with history, this novel was right on the dot. And I like the fact that this focused more on Belle getting used to life in the North and being free than running from slave catchers on her way to freedom. I don't believe I'd seen that side of the story before I read this book. ( )
  Shebakune | Apr 8, 2009 |
This is the best book I've ever read, since "Tuck Everlasting". It is a very interesting story that would keep you awake for hours, not letting you putting it down for a second or so. All what you would have in mind is what else did the author wrote on the next page, this book makes you to continue flipping and flipping on every page. You just would'nt want to taake a rest on reading it. Have-to-read novel!!! ( )
  gaitabre000 | Nov 27, 2008 |
Belle has lived all her sixteen years in slavery. As a young girl she lost her mother, who was sold away. Her father has decided that he wants a better life for himself and his daughter, so they flee Kentucky, hoping to reach freedom in Canada. But the two are separated, and Belle finds herself lost and alone in Michigan. She is found by the side of the road by Daniel and Josephine Best, the children of free black parents who operate a station on the Underground Railroad. Belle finds herself taken in by the Bests, being treated like a member of the family. But while enjoying her newfound freedom, she also longs for news of her father. And though she doesn't mean to, Belle finds herself falling in love with Daniel, even though he is already engaged to another. Can they ever be together, and will Belle ever find her father again? I highly recommend this book to teenage girls who enjoy historical romances. It's a very sweet love story with an interesting historical backdrop. ( )
1 vote rebecca191 | Nov 11, 2008 |
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Sixteen-year-old escaped slave Belle Palmer finally finds freedom with the Best family in Michigan, and as she settles into her new life, she attracts the attention of the Best's promising son Daniel, who is engaged to another.

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