Co-written by bestselling authors Carrie Karasyov and Jill Kargman, star of the Bravo series Odd Mom Out, Bittersweet Sixteen is a story of friendship, drama, and the hazards of turning sixteen.
A brand-new wardrobe from Saks, a private jet, and a red-carpet guest list: just your average Sweet Sixteen party.
At least it is for the teens who attend Tate, the posh all-girls high school in Manhattan. But Laura Finnegan—thrift store junkie and scholarship student at Tate—isn't like everyone else. And when her best friends Whitney and Sophie begin obsessing over their birthday bashes, tempers start to flare, Prada bags go flying, and guys are tossed around in vicious tug-of-war battles. Whose Sweet Sixteen will reign supreme?
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About the Author
Carrie Karasyov & Jill Kargman are best buds who met at their all-girls private high school in New York City. They have cowritten two novels for adults, The Right Address and Wolves in Chic Clothing, and two novels for teens, Bittersweet Sixteen and Summer Intern. Carrie is also the author of The Infidelity Pact, and Jill is the author of Momzillas.
Jill Kargman is the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including The Right Address, Wolves in Chic Clothing, Momzillas, and The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund. Her latest effort is a nationally bestselling book of essays, Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut. She is also a featured writer for Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Town & Country, and Elle, and a copywriter for her greeting card company, Jill Kargman Etceteras.
Read an Excerpt
By Carrie Karasyov
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Carrie Karasyov
All right reserved.
There's one thing you have to know. In the world of private schools, penthouses on Park Avenue, chauffeur-driven Bentleys, and $100-a-plate family dinners at Le Cirque, one thing reigns supreme as the pinnacle of a tenth-grade girl's social calendar in New York: the almighty Sweet Sixteen birthday extravaganza.
It was the first day of school, sophomore year. That September anticipatory stress was coursing through every capillary of every student, and not because of the backbreaking textbooks already tucked into our Marc Jacobs bags for the nightly grind. It was because the competition for the best Sweet Sixteen soiree was about to start, and it was steep. I mean, way more cutthroat than the honor society plaque.
Let me back up. My name is Laura Finnegan and I live in New York City. My school is not your average football 'n' cheerleader, pom-pom, pep-rally, flag-waving, all-American Rydell High kind of place. No varsity letters, no football games, no prom king . . . no prom. See, my school, Tate Academy, is -- gasp -- all girls. I know, nightmare, right? Oh, and did I mention the uniform? Gray pleated skirt and white button-down shirt. Not that we really care; I mean, who are we trying to flirt with by our lockers?No one! Oh, and btw, we don't even have lockers; we have carpeted lounges with individual closets opening onto the couch-filled room.
See, Tate is the top private all-girls academy in New York, a bastion of education and refinement that has been enlightening the city's finest young ladies for over two hundred years. Jackie O. personally saw to its landmark preservation in the eighties, when the ivy was eating away at the historic limestone facade. Located on the uberposh Upper East Side, it boasts a student directory where most of the last names are the same as Fortune 500 companies.
Except for moi -- I don't recall seeing Finnegan, my family's name, on any publicly traded stocks, or published in Forbes, or published ever, for that matter. Okay, maybe in a scholarly quarterly journal or something, but certainly not in the glossy party pictures of Vogue or Town & Country, where I regularly spied my classmates' moms in their couture designer duds.
Luckily, I don't really have to deal with all the over-the-top craziness of my own Sweet Sixteen. See, when I talk about these parties, I'm not talking about pizza and Pepsi at the local bowling alley. I mean black tie. I mean hotel ballrooms and flowers and lighting schemes and bands; events that cost more than a down payment for a small house in Ronkonkoma. But because my parents are NYU professors and barely have enough dough to have a Chuck E. Cheese fete, freaking about having the best bash isn't even an option. Don't get me wrong; it's not like I'm on welfare or anything, but my parents can't even pay twenty grand a year for tuition at Tate on their teacher's salaries, so they obviously are not going to cough up half a mill on a rager that lasts a few hours. And although I admit that sometimes I like to imagine what sort of multimillion-dollar soiree I would host if I had the chance, honestly, seeing how everyone was wigging over hatching their gilded plans made it a little easier to be poor.
So this autumn, when we all returned to school, I was prepared to ignore all the party-planning brouhaha and just dive into my textbooks and chalk up some A's so I had a decent chance of a scholarship to an Ivy. The morning crunch of girls packed our class lounge, snapping cell phones shut, hanging up Gucci overcoats, and unpacking their Prada book bags into their closets. I said hi and greeted some of my classmates, asking breezily about their summers and hearing their litany of whirlwind adventures and world travel -- one skied in the Alps, one attended summer classes at Le Rosee in Switzerland, one worked with "youths" in inner-city Chicago by day (then checked in to sleep at the Drake Hotel by night), and one hot-air ballooned through Scandinavia. Me, I worked at a camp in Maine teaching sewing in the crafts department and had fun but was psyched to come home and see my friends. Most of all, my best friend, Whitney.
Whitney Blake is pretty much perfect. But not annoyingly perfect, just effortlessly flawless. Buttery blond and blue-eyed with Waspy facial architecture that Michelangelo would have used as a blueprint for his next statue, she was christened in Baby Dior, summered in Southampton, and sampled her first potato galette with caviar at age seven. I know, it sounds nuts, but it's all she's ever known, and she's actually really down to earth. Otherwise, I wouldn't be friends with her. We bonded from day one when she complimented my French braid in second grade, and since I am an only child and she has an older brother she never sees, we became almost like sisters. She never made a big deal about my non-glam background; in fact, she loves my fam -- and the fact that my house is normal, happy, and chill. If her parents are jet set, mine are sofa set: mellow, book reading, and always relaxed. Whitney and I just get each other the way old friends do; we complete each other's thoughts and sentences; it's like we have a code.
We do have our differences; I can get stressed out (schoolwork, parents, life) and she's usually very calm and confident. That's because when you've pretty much been the queen bee for as long as anyone can remember, no one tries to dethrone you. The whole Sweet Sixteen thing? Not a thorn in Whit's side -- she and everyone else knew her January party would blow everyone else's out of the Evian. She's not cocky about it; she just knows. Like with guys. They woooorship her. I mean, putty in her manicured hands. They circle around her like sharks on the prowl for her size-four chum.
Excerpted from Bittersweet Sixteen by Carrie Karasyov Copyright © 2006 by Carrie Karasyov. Excerpted by permission.
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