While I have yet to read anything by Jen Calonita, I have always heard most excellent things about her books. This makes me very happy to say that Jen Calonita is stopping by the blog today with a guest post for the release of her new book, The Grass is Always Greener, the final Belles novel, which comes out April 15.
Jen Calonita is the author of the Belles and Secrets of My Hollywood Life series. The final Belles novel, The Grass is Always Greener, comes out April 15. Find Jen on the web at her website, Twitter, or Goodreads.
The Rules for Turning 16
When Mira and Izzie turn sixteen in The Grass is Always Greener, the party they throw could be on a MTV special. We’re talking a lavish masquerade ball thrown at a plantation home turned catering hall with every bell and whistle you can imagine.
My sweet sixteen party was nowhere near as lavish, but it was every bit as spectacular, even if I have ONE photo to show for it. (First side note: When I told my mom Book Cellar wanted me to write a blog about turning sixteen, I asked her to find some photos. She said the only one she could dig up was the one I’m including with this article! I am a picture-aholic. I take photos of my children almost daily and I scrapbook, so it kills me to think my mom lost my sweet sixteen album, but—sob—I’m calm about it now. Back to the story…)
The year my friends and I turned sixteen, parties were all anyone could talk about.
“Where are you having your party? A marina? On a fishing boat? Fun!”
“What is the dress code at your party? Oh, you want us to get dressed like Michael Jackson in Smooth Criminal? Er, okay!”
“Are you inviting the popular kids because I so don’t want the popular kids at my party because they will bash it behind our backs…”
That last question caused many a fight during sweet sixteen season and broke up quite a few friendships, which is why I was so worried about my party. I was several months older than my friends since my birthday was in December so I was freaked out about being the party against the standard by which all other sweet sixteens would be measured. Would mine be considered lame compared to the one my friend Tejah was hosting on a fishing boat? Would everyone think my need to play dress up was silly now that Christi was having a more casual affair? What if the place I picked to have the party at was considered lame compared to the other halls my friends picked? I mean, some of them were having them at places you’d normally have a wedding!
My dad is not Bill Monroe. He was a postal worker so I didn’t realize how lucky I was that he could even afford to throw me a party! We wound up picking a Mexican restaurant that had a party room with a big dance floor with room for a DJ. (Another side note: the place is now an Italian restaurant that hosts mommy mixers. When I went to one there, it was the first time I had been back in almost fifteen years! I wound up meeting one of my closest friends at that mixer. Who knew my sweet sixteen restaurant could be so magical? Back to the story…) I remember my mom’s one request that night was that the DJ place “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart. I was mortified, but when I hear that song now, I get sort of misty. Google the lyrics and you’ll see why a mom would want that song played.
Anyway, the biggest deal for me was finding the perfect dress for the party.
Which is why I have no clue why I chose the one you see pictured.
Was I going for a wicked witch motif straight out of Oz? Why in God’s name would I pick a shiny fabric? Or go strapless when, ahem, I should not be wearing a strapless? (Fear of falling out of strapless dresses has haunted me at many a wedding.)
And why, oh why, did I wear my hair down and poofy instead of in an updo?
I don’t have the answers to why sixteen-year-old me did those things. I can tell you that I was happy with how I looked that night, and that’s really important for a birthday girl. I know I danced with my heels on for about ten minutes and then ran around in my stocking feet for the rest of the night. I’m glad I didn’t have a boyfriend then because one of my friends broke up with her boyfriend right around the party and it ruined her night. I know I insisted on carrying my three-year-old cousin Mallory around the dance floor the whole time like she was an accessory and I thought that made me look cool. (Side note #3: Mallory is getting married next year and I’m in her wedding party! Back to the story…) And I remember my DJ was, if I’m not being biased, the best out of all the DJs at the parties I went to. He had to be because he played “It Takes Two” by DJ by Rob Base and DJ Ez-Rock twice, and it was my friend Christi and my favorite song. We had our own dance routine to it and everything! (Final side note: I love that scene in The Proposal when Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock are singing that song together. Swoon! Christi is obsessed with Ryan Reynolds though, which means I cannot find him cute even when he is on screen half-naked and ripped because BFs don’t like the same boy. It’s our rule from the days when I obsessed over Joey McIntrye. Back to the story…)
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the rules for turning sixteen are that there are no rules. You can make this milestone whatever you want it to be. For me, it was a night with great friends and great dancing. If I could do it over, thirty-something me would probably scrap the whole party and beg my parents to take me on a trip to the Caribbean. But I know sixteen-year-old me would want the party. Planning Izzie and Mira’s party in The Grass is Always Greener was so much fun that I wished I could actually do my sweet sixteen all over again.
But this time, I would not wear a shiny green dress.
Thanks so much for sharing Jen! I never did anything for my 16th birthday, but I was a bit jealous of people that did. How about you lovely readers, do any of you have any epic Sweet 16 memories to share (whether they be good or bad)? Share in the comments :)
How many secrets can one family keep?
Amid preparations for Emerald Cove’s extravagant Founders Day celebration and their own shared sweet sixteen, Isabelle Scott and Mirabelle Monroe are longing to break free from the tight constraints that come with being the daughters of a prominent public figure. When Izzie’s estranged aunt, Zoe, breezes into town, the already uneasy family dynamic is turned on its head.
Izzie’s finally found her footing in Emerald Cove by leading the Social Butterflies, her school’s prestigious club, and she has no interest in getting to know yet another long-lost family member. But Mira, who’s on a mission to try new things and make new friends, is drawn to Izzie’s artsy aunt. And when Mira meets a handsome, brooding painter, her entire perspective on life begins to shift.
As tensions mount in Emerald Cove, Zoe’s laid-back attitude appeals to both girls. But when she offers Izzie the chance of a lifetime, it’s time to make a tough decision. What’s more important: family or freedom?