It Chicks: Sixteen Candles by Tia Williams 2008
IQ "Dancing was her safe place, something that made her feel special, powerful, alive. When she danced, she was invincible-no one could touch her, not Trey, not the skinny b***es brigade, not anybody." Tangie pg. 27
Contains some spoilers if you haven't read the first book, It Chicks.
In the sequel to It Chicks (don't judge my old review too harshly. I was new and believe me, I'm well aware that it's not at all a well written review. But at least I'm learning), Skye is rebounding from her disastrous back-to-school drama. She can't afford to stay mad at her friends, she needs to kiss and make up with them so that they can make her look good on TV. Skye is going to be on the show Sixteen Candles (think MTV's Sweet Sixteen) on MVN and her party needs to be the BEST sweet sixteen ever but it looks like her famous mom and sister may upstage her on her own show. Skye's friends have their own drama to deal with; Tangie is slowly getting over senior Trey Stevens when he suddenly decides that he does really like her and he's no longer a player. Meanwhile, C.J. is still trying to keep his art-deal news underwraps (it's against school rules to have published work), Regina is struggling with her sexuality and Kamillah and Black are having some Afrocentric issues. There's always drama and excitement at Louis Armstrong Academy of Performing and Creative Arts.
This series is a personal favorite of mine, but it has some flaws that others may not be able to overlook. As a lover of all things dance related, It Chicks: Sixteen Candles is right up my alley. A light, cute read that remains fairly predictable, but it is original in that, the main characters are all teens of color who are rich (most of them) and want to go into show business. However, typos abound which once again, make for confusing conversations. Also, I'm really annoyed by how dated this book is. For example, a certain celebrity couple performs at Skye's sweet sixteen, but in 2010 (even 2008 when this book was published), this couple has broken up and their song isn't played all that often (I still like the song though). I don't like how Tangie is still friends with Skye. She treats her horribly and yet Tangie puts up with it. Tangie feels bad for her because Skye is clearly attention-starved (her family ignores her) and she feels obligated to remain Skye's friend because they've been best friends for life. Which I guess I can understand, but I want Tangie to at least knock some sense into her. I'm also really annoyed with C.J. and Tangie. They are almost perfect for each other and the reason they won't go out with each other is no longer cute, just silly. Finally, I wish the premise of the story was a bit more original. I mean really: MVN (MTV), Sixteen Candles (My Super Sweet Sixteen), reality tv show where rich girls throw sweet sixteens and have lots of meltdowns. I felt that something more original could have been added to the show to differentiate it from the real life identical version.
I still love the entertainment aspect of it. Based on Tia Williams writing, I can see that Tangie is a great dancer and that she really loves it. She is so dedicated and I love how her "big booty" won't prevent her from dancing, even though anorexic-looking girls who are jealous of her talent, are constantly tearing her down. I do think that Sixteen Candles is unpredictable, mainly because the characters are so frustrating and don't communicate! So many misunderstandings occur. However this is realistic so I can't be too mad. Also, I think the overall appeal of this book is that it offers us teens of color a chance to see people who look like us (on the cover!) being talented and rich. I love the multicultural cast and they are pretty well developed characters. They go beyond cliches (although I have to wonder how Skye can go to a performing arts school where she herself says lots of gay teens attend, and yet she has no gaydar whatsoever. Odd). The theme of Skye's party sounds like a lot of fun, one that I would definitely attend.
It Chicks: Sixteen Candles is a bit lacking in creativity but it is also unpredictable. The Fame-like setting of a performing arts school with a multicultural cast who are go-getters makes for a pleasing read, once you get over the typos. Not too complicated or deep, it is a light read that is perfect for spring and summer. The ending was satisfying, but it's still a cliff hanger in a way. Especially because I don't know if the author is even working on another book in the series (I believe she's the online beauty editor at Essence.com). However, I think the original It Chicks was better than the sequel. Lovers of the performing arts will especially enjoy this book.
PS I could only find a good sized image of this book that showed the back and front cover. I like it though. It's not spectacular and looks too-posed, but I like the pruple outline and how the girl in red is whispering to the other guy.