The Beast of Bellevue
by Grace Chen
Reading Harbor

"A thought occurred to her that made her blush even deeper. Even if she couldn’t be on the outside, that didn’t mean she couldn’t be a part of it from the inside."

Reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, Chen's young adult novel swaps the expected gender roles of the classic fairytale. In this omniscient narration, Chen follows the lives of many characters, but mainly Ava, Dylan, and Alec. Ava has lived almost half of her life in Bellevue Insane Asylum. It all started with an accident that left her parents believing she wasn't stable enough to live a normal life. In that sense, she is the "beast" of this story, locked away and denied her freedom. A gift that her late grandfather leaves behind for her opens a doorway to the beauties of the outside world through brothers Dylan and Alec.

To make quick cash, Dylan uses his brother's name and image for a dating site, knowing that Alec's popularity and good looks will attract many willing customers from their school. As Dylan profits handsomely from the site and learns more about Ava as he chats with her online, he begins to question the morality behind his actions. The longer Ava interacts with the brothers thinking they are one person, the more she longs to be free and live the life of a regular teenager who goes to high school.

Frequently, omniscient narration can be confusing, but Chen manages to keep the jump between characters fluid and easy to follow in her book. Furthermore, through her choice of this storytelling technique, the reader gets a glimpse into almost every character's head, even if they are only side characters. Additionally, it allows Chen to spectacularly develop her fictional players and bring them to life. Along with the characters that keep readers turning the pages, the plot remains interesting throughout, making this fairytale twist easy to read in one sitting.

Return to USR Home