Who Were you When you Were XVI?

First off, YAY!!! Our first League release! Congratulations Julia! We all know this book is going to hit the world like gangbusters!

In anticipation of this release I got to thinking that one of the things that really struck me about XVI is how well Julia depicts the momentous experience of going from 15 to 16. There's something about that transition and our reaction to it that seems to form so much of who we are and who we come to be. 

Who knows, maybe it's because 16 is when we start driving (at least here in the States) and we feel that first adrenaline rush of freedom and power, or maybe because we're finally rounding the corner into the last leg of High School and thinking more and more about college and beyond. 

Whatever the reason, for me 16 felt like a major pivot point between being a kid and being an adult. From your place at 15 everything on the other side seems simultaneously thrilling and terrifying, like you're about to step into a whole new world. This is exactly what's happening to Nina in XVI, and it's so well expressed in the book.

So in the spirit of XVI, I'm wondering what all of you were like when you were just 16.

I'll start.

Yeah, this was me. Me and my glorious glorious mullet. 

Beyond sporting the "business-in-front, party-in-back look," who was I? Musically I was moving out of my all Prince all the time mode and starting to discover 80's angst rock like REM, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, New Order, XTC and others. I had just started to drive (my dad's old powder blue Chevy Malibu) and was dating a cute and spunky red head with a  turned up nose who eventually completely broke my heart.

Most importantly, I was starting to get into theater in a big way. The above picture is from a production of Man of La Mancha.  Ever since I was little I remember looking for what my thing was. I knew it wasn't sports or music or academics. I dabbled in drawing and writing, but for some reason when I got up on stage the first time, that's when I felt myself slide into something that felt right to me. I was more and more sure that this was the path for me in life. The funny thing is that in a way it actually was, acting lead to writing plays seriously which that lead to writing books so in a way I'm still on that path, it was just a bit twistier than I imagined.

Ok, so I went ahead and embarrassed myself a bit here, so how about all of you, in honor of the release of Julia Karr's XVI, tell us a little about yourself at 16.  Who were you? What were you doing? What were you thinking? Did the 16 year old you lead directly to who you are now?

Jeff Hirsch
The Eleventh Plague
Coming from Scholastic, Fall 2011

Find me at jeff-hirsch.com and @jeff_hirsch


Pam Harris said...

At 16, I was a junior in a southeastern VA high school. It was my first year at the school and I was very shy and quiet. Most of the other students all knew each other since they were little, and I felt like an outsider looking in. Additionally, I was ranked 3 at my last high school, but at this new one I was ranked 40-something. That kind of shows the competitive nature of the school. I think I've blossomed since then. Even though I'm still introverted, I'm way more assertive now. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Love the photo! You were much more sure of yourself than I was. I was still very shy, although I was becoming confident enough to join the sports I wanted to join in high school. Congrats to Julia on the release!!! :)

LM Preston said...

I was a tough, girly, city chick.

Unknown said...

Wow. That picture is full of awesome.

16 was a rough year for me. I lost a boy that I loved in a car accident, so when I look back on that year, I remember a lot of pain mostly. But yeah, it definitely had an impact on who I am today.

Ellz said...

At sixteen, I was tons of trouble. My parents are still threatning me with Karma. Apparently my children will be hellions when they hit that age (gulps)

Loved your pic!

Mandy P.S. said...

Sixteen was sort of a disappointment for me. We weren't allowed to date until we were sixteen, and my older sister had a boyfriend the day she turned sixteen, so I assumed that would happen for me too. I mean that's what all the movies and books said, right? Sweet sixteen == boyfriend.

However, that wasn't the case for me. Sixteen was absolutely no different from fifteen. Except I had a car. Which was pretty sweet.

Angie Smibert said...

You're right, Jeff; 16 is this pivot point between dependence and (relative) independence. Friends and interests start changing. My mom, bless her heart, threw me a surprise sweet 16, but she didn't take into account that my friends might have changed since she last checked--which was evidently, oh, middle school. It was all good in the end.

Mrs. DeRaps said...

Fun topic. I was waaay dumber than I thought I was, made some really bad decisions, and became a teacher so that I could spend the rest of my life in high school.

Nice mullet : )

Matthew MacNish said...

16 wasn't nearly as big as 18 for me. Probably because when I turned 16 I was sequestered away at a reform school in the middle of nowhere Idaho. Hey, at least it inspired the novel I'm currently working on.

Matthew MacNish said...

Also, you may be the first person I've seen who had a thicker beard than I did at that age. Did they have you buying all the beer the moment you entered high school?

Jeff Hirsch said...

Hi guys! Thanks so much for restraining yourselves from the open mullet mockery!

Yeah, Matthew I must admit that I am quite proud of the beard. But no, i never bought beer for myself or anyone else in HS. Weird, huh? Never touched a drop of alcohol until college. A true missed opportunity.

Hi Pam! I'm from VA too. Chesterfield County, just south of Richmond. Where were you?

Jen Bigheart said...

That picture is adorable!

When I was 16, I was living in Chico, CA - the #1 party school in America via a Playboy poll. So...I was partying. A lot.


Pam Harris said...

Hi Jeff! I'm from Newport News--probably about a 2-hour or so drive from you. :)

Carol Riggs said...

What a great 16 photo! Even with the mullet. LOL

At 16 I had to move (again) to my second out of 3 high schools, and I got The Greatest English Teacher, who intro'd me to writing. Yay! A definitely pivotal year. I even learned how to submit things!