Review: Turning 16 by Perie Wolford

New Gay Series To Pay Tribute To Sixteen Candles Movie and Other Awesome John Hughes Movies.

Sam never liked his birthdays because not a single one of them was happy... When he turned 1, he fell face-down into his birthday cake; when he turned 5, he broke his left arm and when he turned 7, he broke his right arm and his left leg; when he turned 12, his house caught fire. Now Sam is about to turn 16 and he is dreading the day. The only birthday wish he has is for Jake who is the Mr. Popular of Arcadia High to even acknowledge his existence, or better yet give him a happy-birthday kiss. But Sam knows that it’s not gonna happen. Or is it?

Disclaimer: The plot of the books substantially varies from the John Hughes movies and all the references to the movies are made as a tribute to their awesomeness.

*Also - Check below for a coupon code to get 1/2 off Turning 16

The teen years of my generation can be summed up by the collective works of John Hughes so when I saw a book was coming out loosely based on the classic, Sixteen Candles, I knew I’d be reading it. That is actually kind of a big deal because I’m not much of a YA reader. That being said, some of my favorite books have been classified as YA, so I’m not sure why some formulas work for me and some don’t, but this? This did. It read like I was watching a John Hughes movie for the first time, yet was still original. It paid homage to a classic, but didn’t get too lost in the nostalgia.

Sam is turning 16 and has a history of disastrous birthdays. Turning 16 is an awkward walk with Sam through his birthday week. The obnoxious younger brother is there, the extended family taking over his space is there, the supportive best friend forever is there, plus Jake. Jake is there. *sigh* Jake. Sam has had a crush on Jake forever and the teenage obsession he has with the rich, football hero golden boy is something everyone has felt at some point. Gender and orientation don’t matter, those all-encompassing feelings are the same and Sam had them in spades.

What I really liked about this story was it read like I was in the head of a 16 year old boy. It didn’t feel like a Beverly Hills 90210, 25 year-old actor playing a 16 year-old. This was a 16 year old kid in all his awkward, goofy and fumbling glory. The pieces that read a little awkwardly made sense and added to the feeling of the age and the generation. Hughes movies covered some serious moments and were able to do it without taking themselves too seriously and Turning 16 did that too.

There were some great secondary characters that I can’t wait to see again. I fell in love with Mitch, like really hard. You really have to meet Mitch. While Jake is swoon worthy, Mitch is who you want to spend all your free time with. He’s the guy, that if you end up in detention, you hope he’s there too. Sam and Mitch slowly develop a pretty special, and kind of surprising, friendship in detention . Mitch and Jake are both jocks and play on the football team. Sam is the team’s towel boy and that locker room was Sam’s way of being able to be around Jake more. Sam isn’t jock material, as he says,

“I have muscles! It’s just they are shy and don’t like to be seen in public.”

So, towel boy it was. The locker room was also fuel for his teenage libido and fantasies. Poor Sam and poor Sam’s skivvies. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that when the extended family invaded their house, Sam ended up having to sleep in the laundry room.

You remember the scene in Sixteen Candles where the dad is talking to Samantha after the dance when she can’t sleep and they have that great heart to heart and he say’s “That’s why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they’d call them something else.”? Turning 16 has the “dad talk” moment and it was just as good. Not only did Sam have crush drama, but he’s a 16 year old kid in high school, he’s not out, that wouldn’t be very realistic. So that scene was extra special and one of my favorites.

This was definitely a fun read and I loved all the bittersweet moments. It felt truly age appropriate without being patronizing and was nostalgic while still being relevant. Fun and poignant and I can’t wait to read the next in the series.

BTW note: I LOVE the cover :).

BTW note Part Dos: Perie is pretty awesome and was kind enough to create a Smashwords Coupon for YOU good through 03/03/14.

Head over to Smashwords and enter Coupon Code: KE39S

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review.

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