debut novel Like Mandarin
was released on Tuesday. In the story, 14-year-old Grace wants to be like bold, carefree 17-year-old Mandarin. In Grace's words...
I want to be beautiful like you, I thought, as if Mandarin were listening.
I want apricot skin and Pocahontas hair and eyes the color of tea. I want to be confident and detached and effortlessly sensual, and if promiscuity is part of the package, I will gladly follow your lead. All I know is I’m so tired of being inside my body.
I would give anything to be like Mandarin
Many of us, especially during high school, spent a lot of time wanting to be just like someone else. Kirsten has invited us all to share our stories. Check out her blog
for some terrific stories from many authors and a chance to win a copy of this wonderful book.
So, who was my Mandarin?
My teenage Mandarin was a girl my age who was new to our area and our school. We met the first day of high school. All 'minor niners' met in the auditorium to be assigned home rooms. Everyone from my elementary school sat together. One by one they were called to home rooms - in groups of 2, 3 and 4. I was the last one. Alone. Shy, awkward and more than a little shaky, I shuffled with the final group to our home room and took a seat against the wall, half-way down the aisle.
My Mandarin was the last to enter the room. She smiled, paused, looked around the room and spotted me. Her smile widened, and she waltzed down the aisle and plopped into the seat beside me. She grinned and introduced herself. I smiled back. Who has that kind of confidence in Grade 9?
I wasn't anything like this girl with her head held high, her shoulders straight back and her smile ready for everyone. Why had she sat next to me? Then one of the nearby boys asked if we were twins. I hadn't noticed the physical resemblences. They were a little spooky - same shade of hair, same colour of eyes, same shape of face. At the time we were even the same height and basic body shape.
Our friendship was instantaneous. I followed her sunshine for a long time. She made friends easily and often. She dated a lot - boys hovered everywhere and she loved it. She took risks, some were pretty scary. She focused on fun and always reached for those stars. She believed in herself in all things.
We eventually grew apart as we made different choices in our lives, but My Mandarin's open smile and heart sure made my high school a lot more fun. I wish I'd had the confidence to do that for someone else.
Thanks Kirsten for asking us to take this trip down memory lane. Remember to check out Kirsten's blog
for more stories.
So, did you have a Mandarin? Or were you the Mandarin others wished to be?