Authors: Lauren Myracle
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DUTTON CHILDREN'S BOOKS â¢ A division of Penguin Young Readers Group
Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright Â© 2008 by Lauren Myracle
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Myracle, Lauren, date.
Thirteen / by Lauren Myracle.
Summary: Winnie's thirteenth year brings many joys and challenges as she negotiates her relationship with her first boyfriend and realizes that change is inevitable in her friends, family, and even herself.
[1. Interpersonal relationsâFiction. 2. FriendshipâFiction. 3. Family lifeâAtlanta (Ga.)âFiction. 4. SchoolsâFiction. 5. Atlanta (Ga.)âFiction.] I. Title.
Published in the United States by Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
For every girl
who's trying to be her best, truest self.
I believe in you!
Special thankies to all the girls who've written or e-mailed with tales of their own lives. I'm so honored that y'all share that stuff with me. Thanks to Jim Shuler for medical adviceâthough, if I got anything wrong, blame me. Thanks to Amber and Julia for making it possible for me to find time to write, and thanks to the lovely baristas at the Starbucks on Drake and Shields for providing such a warm and welcoming “office.” Thanks to my mom and sis for reading the first draft and telling me they liked it. A *big* thanks to Anne Havard (from Westminster!) for keeping me straight on all sorts of things. Thanks to my agent, Barry Goldblatt, who handles boring business-y details with humor and finesse, and who's never too busy to talk about the important stuff as well. Thanks to Beegee Tolpa, who captures Winnie perfectly with her art. (Oh good heavens, her illustrations are so fab, aren't they?) Thank you, thank you, thank you to all the wonderful Dutton folks for giving my books such a happy home, and a squillion more thanks to the wonderful Julie Strauss-Gabel, who has a keen eye and a kind heart and whom we should all bow down and praise. Together now, kids:
And of course, forever and ever, thanks and hugs and kisses to my sweet, goofy family. Without you, I would be a dried-up Fig Newton, crusty and alone.
HE THING ABOUT BIRTHDAYS
, especially if you just that very day turned thirteen, is that you should know in your heart of hearts that the world is your oyster. Even if you don't like oysters, because of the slime factor. And because they're gray. And have no eyes. Eating an oyster is like swallowing a fishy blob of Jell-O, and frankly, I'm not a fan. I would not, however, run away shrieking if someone dangled an oyster in front of me, like my BFF, Dinah, would.
Last year on my birthday, I snuck home a shrimp from Benihana, because in addition to being anti-oyster, Dinah is also possessed of a shrimp phobia, the poor dear. I waited until just the right moment, then whipped out the shrimp and jiggled it in front of her, making scary shrimp
noises. There was shrieking. There was cat fur. There was an extremely irate older sisterâthat would be Sandraâwho huffed off with her tub of shrimp-juice-tainted mud mask, which Dinah and I had kind of borrowed.
Ah, the good ol' days.
But today is a good day, too, because today I turned thirteen. It is big, and that bigness hummed inside me even though I tried to play it cool when first Mom and Dad, and then my friends at school, made the obligatory “Ooo, a teenager at last” sort of comments. Dorky, dorky, dorky.
And yet, there's truth behind the dorkiness. I will never be a “child” again. People might call me a child. In fact, I'm sure they will, and I'll glare at them hormonally. But my childhood days are over. There's a Bible verse Grandmom Perry made me learnâ¦what was it?
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But now that I am grown, I have put away such childish things.
It has a tinge of sadness to it, despite the glory of my slumber-party-to-come, complete with Bobbi Brown makeovers at the mall. Growing up is always tinged with sadness; that's what I was coming to learn. You got boobs, but you also got zits. You got to wear cooler clothes, but you felt self-conscious when people noticed you in them. You realized your parents weren't perfect and amazing and all-powerful, which was liberating in a way, but, well, you also realized your parents weren't perfect and amazing and all-powerful. Which sucked. As a little kid, I thought my parents had all the answers. As I got older, I realized no one did.
And let's not forget the friend thing. Back in the olden days, it was all so easy. Take my little brother, Ty, for example. He's six, and he's friends with everyone, even the kids he doesn't like. I went with Mom to pick him up from school last week (because Westminster, where I go, had a teacher workday, and Trinity, Ty's elementary school, didn't), and I saw this kid reach over and pinch Ty on his side. The kid laughed after he did it, and not in a nice way.
“Who was that who pinched you?” I asked him after he climbed into the backseat.
“Gary,” Ty said.
did he pinch you?”
“Because he has sharp fingernails. And because he wants me to think he's a snake, because I'm scared of snakes.”
“What a jerk,” I said.
“Winnie,” Mom warned.
“Fine, he was
like a jerk,” I said. Mom was okay with that, with our saying that someone was
jerky or stupid or annoying. She just didn't want us saying someone
a jerk. My opinion was that Mom was
naÃ¯ve to think that made any difference. “Anyway, a snakebite wouldn't feel like a pinch.”
“What would it feel like?” Ty asked.
“I don't know. Not a pinch.”
“A stabbing pain of hot lava?”
“And it wouldn't be on your waist, either, unless the snake slithered up your pants.”
“Winnie!” Mom said.
“It wouldn't,” I said. “And I don't like Gary for doing that.”
“Me neither,” Ty said. “He should go to the juvenile detention center.”
“Maybe you should stand in the pick-up line with someone else,” I suggested. “One of your friends, and not Gary.”
Ty had looked puzzled.
my friend,” he said, as if he were explaining some basic fact.
In seventh grade, if someone pinched you hard enough to bring tears to your eyes, you wouldn't stay friends with them. Only instead of pinching, a seventh grader was more likely to be snakelike in other ways, like whispering to someone that you were “trying too hard” if you wore pink eye shadow. Or that your shirt was too tight. Or too loose. Or that you really needed to clip your toenails if you didn't want to gross everybody out.
So as a seventh grader, no, you weren't friends with people you didn't like. But sometimes you also weren't friends with people you
like, which was complicated, and which didn't make sense if you tried to explain it. Sometimes things just changed. That's where the sadness came in.
I can't really complain, though. Dinah is my BFF number one; Cinnamon is my BFF number two. Plenty of people have more than one best-friend-forevers. That's allowed. And my ex-BFF is Amanda.
On the very extremely plus side of being thirteen, I also have aâyikes!âplain old BF, as in boyfriend.
. I mean, I don't want to be braggy about it, because it's not as if he rented a billboard and painted “I LOVE WINNIE” across it for all the world to see. And please, we are
to the love stage. Nonie, nonie, no.
But he did hold my hand, tee hee. He held my hand for the first and only time last Thursday, and it was glorious. Plus he's absolutely gorgeous, with his hazel eyes and slouchy-boy saunter and messy, adorable hair. He jokes around with me, and sometimes I feel almost normal with him, and I definitely have the thought that I could be even more normal around him one day, with practice and mental pep talks and
shoulders back, stomach in
reminders. And then, far off in the future, we can get married and watch TV together and have billions of little Larses and Winnies.
No! Ack! Where did
Please don't let Lars have received that as a weird psychic message through the stratosphere
, I begged the world. Sometimes, even though I knew it was impossible, I feared my innermost thoughts
be heard. Not just by God, but by unintended recipients like my dead grandfather and a certain hazel-eyed boy.
I thought loudly.
Not planning on marriage, at least not for a long, long time! Not that desperate and girly!
It did unnerve me, liking Lars and having him (yes, just admit it) like me back. That was a big part of why I had so much to be thankful for, on this day of becoming a teenager. And when I said that a thirteen-year-old should have the world as her oyster, what I meant was this: I hope my life will be this good forever. I hope my life will always be a secret pearl, shimmery and full of promise.
Thirteen-year-olds are too old to blow out candles (though I know I will anyway), but that's my birthday wish.
Dinah's dad pulled into our driveway at five, and Cinnamon's dad followed right on his heels. Or wheels, rather. Dinah and Cinnamon both live with their dads: Dinah because her mom died way back when she was a baby, and Cinnamon because her parents are divorced. Her mom lives in North Carolina, a three-hour drive from Atlanta. Cinnamon has a stepmom, but it isn't a great thing. Her stepmom puts people down a lot, including Cinnamon.
Cinnamon's dad is cool, though. He's a hotshot Atlanta developer who has big-time clients, and sometimes he gets us tickets to random concerts.
Cinnamon hopped out of her father's Lexus and ran up the driveway, past Dinah who was still saying “bye” to her dad. I bounced on my toes on the front porch.
“Happy birthday, you birthday-having fool!” Cinnamon cried, giving me a big ol' hug.
I grinned. “Thanks.”
Dinah kissed her dad's cheek in the front seat of their station wagon. They were very close, in a totally sweet way, and I was glad for both of them, because I think you'd need that if someone you love died. She climbed out, got her overnight bag from the backseat, and came to join us. She and Cinnamon were going to spend the night even though it was a Sundayâso cool! We squealed and did a group-hug-spazzy-thing. We were like jumping elephants.
“Party time!” Cinnamon said.
I helped the two of them lug their stuff inside, then called out to Mom.
“We're ready!” I said. “It's time to go! Our personal beautician awaits!”
“Not beautician,” Cinnamon said. “Beauticians are frumpy old ladies who went to beauty school.”
“With big hair,” Dinah contributed.
“Our personal makeup consultant awaits,” Cinnamon said.
,” I said, like
thank you, O Wise One
Mom clopped downstairs in her heels and a snazzy pants-and-blouse combo. She wore such
clothes, tailored and put-together. Even when she wore jeans, they were crisp and dark blue and high-waisted, with her shirts tucked in according to the law for forty-year-olds. She was cute in her little outfits.
“Hi, girls,” she said.
“Hi, Mrs. Perry,” Dinah and Cinnamon chorused.
“So let's do it,” she said, because she still thought she was hip. To Dadâwho showed up in the kitchen to see us offâshe said, “See you on the flip side, homie.”
“Oh dear god,” I said, as Dinah and Cinnamon giggled. “Mom? Do not
say that again.”
Mom laughed. “Tell me not to say something, and that's exactly what I'll greet you with the next time I pick you up from school.
I'll be wearing clown shoes.”
“Have fun, girls,” Dad said, ruffling my hair and then Dinah's and then Cinnamon's. “Just don't go too crazy!”
At Lenox, Mom told the woman behind the Bobbi Brown counter at Neiman Marcus that we were “only” thirteen (which wasn't even true, Dinah was still twelve) and to please give us a look that was “appropriate.” Then she gave me her credit card, said we could all pick one product to buy, and went off to check out the sales rack in the women's department.
“Okay, this is going to be fun,” the Bobbi Brown lady said as soon as Mom was out of earshot. She was Asian, with gorgeous pale skin and dark eye makeup. I guessed she was in her late twenties. “My name's Aimee, and I say let's just go for it. What do you think?”
“I think I like Aimee very much,” Cinnamon said under her breath.
“Winnie first, because she's the birthday girl,” Dinah said.
“No, I want to go last,” I said. I was excited about being made over, because I myself was crappy with makeup, and so pretty much avoided it like the plague. And it seemed so naked and embarrassing to have it on your face, visible to the world in a way that said, “Hey, look! I care about being pretty!”
care about being pretty.
. I don't think there's a single person in the world who doesn't care about being pretty. Any female, at any rate.
Wellâ¦backtrack, backtrack, backtrack. I
to not care what I looked like. On a scale of one to ten, my appearance scored about a “two” in terms of importance. One more weirdness of getting older: appearance now ranks way higher, like even an eight or nine.
But I didn't want to be the first to get made over, because I'd been struck with a sudden case of the jitters. The naked thing again.
“Do me,” Cinnamon said. She hiked herself onto the stool. “I want smoldering, baby.” She growled. “I am a tigress!”
“You got it,” Aimee said.
She smoothed moisturizer over Cinnamon's skin to provide “a good base” and explained that Cinnamon didn't need foundation. “None of you girls do,” she said. “Enjoy it while you can.”
She stroked green eye shadow over Cinnamon's lids, which she said Cinnamon could pull off because of her green eyes, and used a black eyeliner around her eyes. “But only from the middle of the iris out,” she said. “You don't want your eyes looking squinched together.”
Cinnamon blinked at Aimee's touch, although she was clearly trying to hold still. The eyeliner made Cinnamon's eyes “pop,” to use Aimee's expression.
She finished the look with jet black mascara and something called a “color brick” on Cinnamon's cheeks. It was a cool shimmery blush that was a mix of three different pinks.
“Ta-da,” she said, twirling the stool so that Cinnamon faced us like a painting.