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  • Writer's pictureKara Chatham

Novel: Rebel Belle - Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is great for anyone who enjoys everything a Southern Belle should enjoy with a twist of paladin powers.

Plot Summary: Harper Price is your typical high school overachiever. That is until she gets locked in the girls bathroom with the janitor minutes before she is meant to be crowned Homecoming Queen. This janitor was not just your average janitor. He had special powers that he passed on to Harper. Those powers turns Harper’s world upside down. It forces her to be bound to the one person who appears to be her worst enemy in the high school world. Harper is forced to make choices about what to do with her new found powers and how she lives her life all while keeping an appearance of “nothing is wrong” when she is around her typical crowd.

This first-person narrative was published by the Penguin Group on April 8, 2014. It is a Young Adult, Supernatural piece of fiction.

The themes I found in this novel were how power affects people, growing up, and how people deal with the pressure of certain situations. Since Harper was passed the powers of a paladin, she has to learn about how she should use these powers. When Harper and David encounter Blythe, they see how power can potentially corrupt a person. I think the reason why these superhero-like powers didn’t corrupt Harper is because she was already in charge of so many different organizations that she had found a way to handle herself in the face of power. Because we don’t know very much about Blythe’s backstory, it’s hard to say whether or not she had Harper’s kind of experience and that is why she comes across as such a power hungry person. The theme of growing up is one that can be found in numerous young adult novels because it is something that everyone understands and can identify with. While we all have not had super powers just passed on to us, we have had other things that have brought challenges for us to overcome which results in growing up. This last theme that I mention is a bit of a subtle one. It is not made very well known that Harper is still struggling with the death of her sister, but the moments that it is made known are the moments that help the reader understand why Harper does certain things that she does.

The word choice of the novel is simple and it reflects the type of community the novel is set in – typical Southern community. With typical Southern dialect comes typical Southern sayings such as, “…a little fear of God into these girls” (Hawkins 59) and, “I suwannee” (Hawkins 162). Some other wonderful literary devices found in this novel are allusions, imagery, and hyperboles. Many of the allusions were to comic books, Gone With the Wind, and Charlemagne: “…great responsibility coming with great power…” (Hawkins 55). The imagery was wonderful and painted the image you were meant to see right in front of you: “There was a wide front porch covered in ferns and white rocking chairs, and lamplight spilled out of the big windows lining the front of the house. Ivy crept up one brick wall, and the curving driveway was made, like the one at Magnolia House, out of crushed shells rather than gravel” (Hawkins 136 - 137). What is a YA novel without the protagonist over exaggerating everything? Not much of a teen book, I’d say. Harper definitely has her fair share of hyperboles: “…toxic level of obnoxiousness” (Hawkins 206).

The reading level, according to, of this novel is on the average eighth grade level. The range actually being as low as sixth grade and as high as eleventh grade. As far as content goes, this novel doesn’t have anything that would be unsuitable for anyone in their high school years. Harper is a junior in high school; she is dealing with similar situations (minus the superpowers) to what anyone in their junior or senior years of high school is dealing with in their own life. So be cautioned if you are younger than that and you pick up this book.

That’s all I have to say about this novel. Happy Reading!

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