Being Sixteen (Paperback)
“This is one of those books you can't put down, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. My wish for this book is that every high school girl, her sisters, and their mom will read Being Sixteen and then get together and discuss what they've learned from it.” — Jack Weyland, author of Charly
The night of my sixteenth birthday, I didn_�_t even bother to make a wish when I blew out the candles on the cake. It was my sixteenth birthday, after all. My wishes had already come true. When you turn sixteen, you can start dating. And driving. And living. I counted the candles on my cake as the flames flickered in the summer breeze. I heard the cheers of my friends and family, and as I tasted cake and summer and the promise of good times to come, I thought, This is going to be a good year. Maybe the best year of my life. I had no idea.
Juliet Kendall has been looking forward to her sixteenth birthday for what feels like forever. At first, it seems like being sixteen will be as perfect as she dreamed — she has great friends, a cute almost-boyfriend, a spot on the varsity girls_�_ basketball team, and even a car of her own. But, as the year goes on, she discovers that her sister Carly is hiding a secret and realizes that, in fact, being sixteen may be her hardest year yet.
Being Sixteen is a coming-of-age story about two sisters and their different struggles. It addresses what it means to have a testimony, what it means to be a friend and a sister, and what_�_s involved in dealing with and overcoming an eating disorder.
- Pages: 250
- Size: 6" x 9"
- Published: February 2010
About the Author
Allyson Braithwaite Condie taught high school English in Utah and in upstate New York. Currently, she is employed by her two little boys, who keep her busy playing trucks and building blocks. She enjoys running with her husband, Scott, listening to Neil Diamond (really!), reading, traveling, and eating. She lives with her family in Ithaca, New York.
When I was little, having a birthday in early August meant wading-pool parties and popsicles. It meant sitting with my friends at the picnic table on our back patio, laughing and talking and trying to eat my ice cream before it melted all over my paper plate. It meant staying up as late as I wanted to, playing tag or hide-and-go-seek or other night games with the neighborhood kids. It meant never having to go to school on my birthday. I loved it.
But the year I turned sixteen, having an August birthday became the worst kind of torture. All school year long, I had to wait and watch while everyone else celebrated their birthdays. One by one, my friends started going to dances and out on dates, and soon I was the only one who couldn’t take a turn driving anywhere and who had to sit at home watching movies on prom night. The year I turned sixteen was the year I cursed my August birthday.
There were lots of reasons I couldn’t wait to turn sixteen, but, of course, most of them had something to do with driving—and dating.
One of the reasons was Old Blue, the hideous old sedan that both of my two older sisters had driven before they left home. Large and blue—¬obviously—Old Blue sat in our driveway like a beached whale. But it meant I’d have access to my own means of transportation; I wasn’t about to be picky.
Another reason I couldn’t wait for my birthday was that I’d finally be connected to the modern world. My parents refused to buy any of us girls cell phones until we turned sixteen. They stuck to their guns even when my older sister Maddie turned fifteen and bought a toy cell phone. She walked around in public, talking into it, trying to shame them into buying her a real one. It didn’t work.
Turning sixteen also meant that I could go to dances—including prom. I didn’t have to stay at home anymore wondering about everything—who was dancing with whom, what everyone looked like, and how it might feel to walk onto a dance floor wearing a beautiful dress and holding the hand of a guy in a tux.
And there was one more reason that I looked forward to being sixteen: Nate Carmine. Nate was the kind of clean-cut, good-looking guy that girls want to go out with and that parents want their daughters to date. He had tangly dark hair and celery-green eyes, and that combination of confidence and kindness that is irresistible in a very good way.
And you know what? Nate liked me.
“What was your favorite birthday ever?” my best friend Megan asked me as we drove home from the evening session of our summer basketball camp. Correction. I was driving. I was driving! Old Blue sailed along the roads, large and in charge, with me behind the wheel.
I glanced over at Megan, who’d been my best friend since we were in the same fifth-grade class. Looking at her reminded me of looking at myself in a mirror—even though we don’t have similar faces, we’re about the same height and we both have long brown hair. Once in a while, people used to ask us if we were sisters.
“I don’t know. Twelve? That was a good one. I got to start going to Young Women, and I had an awesome birthday party,” I said.
“Oh, yeah. I remember that party.”
“Remember how we had that cake in the shape of a hoop and all those little cupcakes decorated like basketballs?”
“And your parents had one of the members of the college team come and sign autographs and shoot hoops with us.”
“Like I said—that was a good one.”
Time to turn onto Megan’s street. I flicked the turn signal on with an exaggerated gesture. “Please notice that I am signaling at least two seconds in advance of my turn—”
Megan reached over and flicked the lever back. “Wait. Go to your house instead. Your mom invited me over for cake.”
“Did she?” I asked. “Did she invite anyone else?”
“Maybe,” Megan said, grinning. “I don’t know.”
“She’s throwing me a surprise party, isn’t she?”
“Juliet!” Megan rolled her eyes. “Way to ruin the surprise.”
“I’ll act surprised,” I promised. “So is she?”
“I’m not telling you!”
“She totally is,” I said with satisfaction. “I knew it.” Both my older sisters had had surprise parties for their sixteenth birthdays, but usually the parties happened earlier in the day. Emma and Maddie had school on their sixteenth birthdays, so my mom had to get creative. For Em’s birthday, Mom invited Em’s friends over for breakfast, and for Maddie’s, she asked for special permission to take Maddie and her friends off-campus for lunch.
Nothing special had happened at breakfast for me. During the lunch break from basketball camp, Dad and I made a mad dash to get my license at the Department of Motor Vehicles, but that wasn’t a surprise. We’d planned on doing that for weeks. Even though getting my license was very, very exciting, and even though I got to play ball all day long at basketball camp, I have to admit that I hoped for something extra, too. Something with surprises, and people I loved, and cake. Definitely cake.
I pulled into the driveway and bounded up the steps, Megan hurrying to keep up with me. My house was dark and quiet. “Helloooo—” I called out, opening the front door. Nothing. They were probably hiding behind the couches. I flipped on the light. “Hey—”
Still nothing. Nothing and no one. I turned to Megan, who smirked a little. “What’s going on?” I demanded.
“Maybe we should try the backyard,” she suggested, and I practically ran through the living room into the kitchen. I threw open the back door.
“Surprise!” everyone shouted.
“Happy birthday!” my sister Maddie called. “How does it feel to be sixteen?”
I just stood there, smiling, soaking it all in.
It wasn’t dark yet, only dusky, and the golden, glowing light of the sunset turned everyone and everything beautiful. My parents and my sisters were there. My friends were there, and, yes, Nate Carmine was there, too, standing next to my dad. Dad must have said something funny because Nate started to laugh, and at that moment he glanced over and saw me. His smile widened a little as his eyes met mine.
The evening wind threatened to blow out the candles on the cake that my mom carried toward me—my favorite kind of cake, chocolate. I knew the frosting was homemade and deliciously rich. As Mom got closer, I leaned over and swiped my finger along the edge of the cake and popped the frosting into my mouth.
“Juliet!” my mom said, laughing. She held the cake closer to me. “At least blow out the candles first.”
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, ready to wish. But nothing came to mind. My life was full of good things. So I opened my eyes and leaned in to blow out all of the candles. I did it all in one breath, and everyone cheered. The smoke drifted up as the first stars started coming out, little bright lights in a darkening blue sky.
A Must Read for Moms, Daughters and Sisters!
by Malibu - reviewed on March 01, 2010
This book was fantastic. One of the best works of LDS fiction I've read. This is a well-written book about a 16 year old dealing with some very difficult things and the author resolves them in a very real way. I loved how Juliet grew over the course of the novel, and you never find her little sister annoying or bratty, you find her real. (I also appreciated how the author didn't try to add in a bunch of references to teen culture (facebook, ipods) like some authors make the mistake of trying to do. The author is really good at her craft- she uses symbolism beautifully. It was well-paced and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. I was really pleased with this book- I am going to have to go and read her other books now, too!
Honest and Hopeful
by Heather - reviewed on November 01, 2010
The first time I saw this book on the shelf at Deseret Book I have to admit I put it back. I just wasn't sure I was ready to read another book dealing with eating disorders. Then after reading Matched I decided I wanted to delve into more of Ally's past titles. Being Sixteen resonated with me on so many levels. It hit deep within my core. It's one of my top three favorite books of 2010. I truly believe sometimes stories come into our lives at just the right time. I found myself in tears several times while reading. It breathes truth and hope. Allyson Condie takes on eating disorders with grace and style. Her voice is poetic, and real. "On one level I was ashamed of how weak I was, of how I'd do anything to avoid feeling hurt. But on another level I felt almost strong, a little proud of the way I'd cut off the parts of my life that made me feel too much sadness." p. 124 This is a book I would wholeheartedly recommend to every Young Woman I know as well as her parents. Many crucial facets of diagnosis, treatment and the long road to recovery from anorexia and bulimia are addressed. Two sister's struggles and growing pains are woven beautifully into the pages showing that even those from strong functional families have life altering problems. Being Sixteen explores the effects of an eating disorder on loved ones and family as well as how easily faith in Heavenly Father can dim, to later be rekindled. Thank you so much to Deseret Book for sending me this book for review. It is one that I will forever remember. Five stars plus.
I'll never get tired of this book
by Customer - reviewed on January 17, 2010
I loved loved loved this book! I plan on reading this book as many times as possible. I just love it. The characters are so real. I dont know what else to say without ruining the book.
It was pretty good
by Bertha - reviewed on July 01, 2010
Being sixteen was for the most part quite enjoyable. It told a satisfying story of a family that has problems, even if they're doing all the right things. It also touches on perserverance, and judging people. The main thing I liked was that it raises awareness on eating disorders, and shows what can happen if you get help.
One of the best books i've ever read
by Customer - reviewed on September 26, 2010
every teen girl should read this book. i loved the book it is one of those books you just can't put down. you would never regret buying this for your teenage daughter.
by Customer - reviewed on March 25, 2011
this book is one of the best teen books i have ever read! it shows you how testimonies and family strength can grow.