In Like Mandarin, 14-year-old Grace Carpenter would give anything to be like Mandarin Ramey. Mandarin is seventeen, self-assured, irreverent and mysterious; the notorious wild girl of their small Wyoming town.
Sure, maybe most of the attention Mandarin got was negative. But it wasn't the kind of disdainful brainfreak attention I got, when I got any at all. Hers was lust. And jealousy. Because even as they condemned her, every single girl wanted to be her.
But nobody more than me.
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.
Grace's fascination with Mandarin borders on obsession. When they're paired together for a project, their explosive friendship rocks Grace's world – which makes Mandarin's betrayal even more devastating.
When Kirsten asked us to consider who our Mandarins were growing up, it didn't take long to come up with an answer. In fact, I'm sure most all of you could guess mine as well.
Laura Roecker's Mandarin Ramey = Lisa Roecker
Shocking, right? Let me explain...
Lisa exuded confidence. Even from an early age. I mean, look how she rocked those overalls. No one can rock overalls. Easter hat? Yes, please. We even had the same haircut and played with the same toys. Granted, I'm sure our parents thought it was cute, but I was a pretty happy camper.
The older we got, the more I tried. Not only did I continue to mimic her style*, but I talked like her, acted like her, even pouted like her. Now, I knew better than to cut my hair like her at this point. The pyramid look didn't sit well with me.
And it didn't stop in middle school. I think Lisa will always be my Mandarin. Although, I like to think I'm hers every once and a while. God knows, Stacey is both of ours. I think the whole point is that there are all sorts of women to look up to, for all different sorts of reasons. And then somehow, while sorting out the looking up to others, you learn to sort out the being like yourself. Funny how that happens.
So, let's hear it in the comments. Who's your Mandarin? Just for playing, you'll have a chance to win this AWESOME nailpolish we found at our favorite store! A Good Man-darin Is Hard To Find! Isn't that the truth...
*Style is a very loose term. Sorry, Lis.
Like you, my older sister was my Mandarin growing up. She had a better fashion sense (still does) and exuded confidence!
Like Mandarin is one I decided to purchase based on the voice of the first chapter! Can't wait.
Crap! I thought we were doing this on Wednesday?
Just kidding. You guys can go early. And BTW, you two are absofreakinglutely adorable. I mean the My Little Ponies? And the hats? CUTE overload!
I'll be talking about my Mandarin on Wednesday.
I wish I had a sister! you two are beautiful! :)
I had a couple of Mandarins. My BF was one. I'm going to post about her on Wednesday. It wasnt' how she looked as much as her I-Don't-Care attitude that I envied.
I agree, not everyone can rock aviators.
Aw, you guys make me wish I had a sister. My Mandarin would be my French friend, Mireille, who always seemed so worldly and beautiful (and still is 22 years later). Also, my mom's best friend Laura, who was a surgeon and had lots of adventures and didn't care what people thought.
Congrats to Kirsten on Like Mandarin!
I've joined the non-blogfest on the 16th to share my Mandarin but it was a girl in High School, she was beautiful, kind, and amazing... TALK ABOUT JEALOUS.
When I was in high school? My mom's cousin, Rose.
She was decades older than me, but it didn't matter. Rose was in the very first Peace Corps (Kennedy's), she wore the funkiest jewelry, was multilingual, AND she had the most beautiful skin I'd ever seen.
I'm in the non-blogfest too to talk about one of my Mandarins ... there were a few. Another one was my sister too - I followed her around like a puppy dog a lot of the time! :)
Love this. And the pictures? Perfect. Now who was Lisa's Mandarin?
awe, you guys make me miss my sisters. We were three girls growing up too (before my parents decided to add two more to the pack during their midlife crisis when I was 15) You're so lucky to still be so close! Loved the pics!
Love the pictures. Must have been an interesting dynamic!
So cool that you wanted to be like Lisa. I wanted to be like my aunt when I was little and then I wanted to be like my older stepsister.
Awww. You two were adorable. :D
Makes me jealous that I didn't have a sister.
Aside from celebrities (hello Kelly Kapowski), I wanted to be like my aunt, who worked in the fashion industry on Fifth Avenue. She always had the coolest clothes, wore high heels, and had red nails. As a girlie girl, I was in awe.
Those photos are adorable!
My Mandarin was Jeanne, my aunt who was seven years older, who lived smack in the middle of San Francisco. In the '80s, when I was in high school and she worked nights as a nurse, I would spend weekends with her: rifling through her rhinestone jewelry, trying on her lime-green, shoulder-padded blazers.
Jeanne was smart, single, stylish, and had a great '80s mullet.
Now, she's a mom. We live an hour from each other, and I love her more than ever.
I think it's so sweet your Mandarin was your older sister! I don't have an older sister, so she can't be my Mandarin. ;)
I don't have an older sister, but my older cousins were my Mandarins. Everything they did--hair, clothes, way of talking, interests--I copied. Now, I still admire them, but I don't try to make myself into them. I'm happy with me. :)
You two are A-dorable! I don't know who they were. I'm sure I had them. It was just too long ago for my poor, sad memory to remember.
You guys are so adorable, makes me want a sister :)
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com
That is SO sweet - I hope my 2 girls grow up to be as close as the two of you.
I don't know that my Mandarin was 1 person in particular, more like I just wanted to be like "them" - the cheerleaders and popular girls. *rolls eyes at myself now*
That is too adorable! My Mandarin was a girl one year older than me in high school. Her name was Lauren, and she was probably the most genuine, sweet person I'd ever met. She got the leads in the school plays, wanted to be a lawyer to help fight for women (abuse cases, etc). Plus she had these AMAZING eyelashes, super long and gorgeous, the kind most girls die for. But no one could ever hate her; she was just too sweet!
I seriously wish I had a sister now. Love this post!
My Mandarin was mt bestfriend who was beautiful, had lots of guys, was witty and smart and always knew what to do or say.
BUt after I moved for university she decided we couldn be friend anymore...
aliasgirl at libero dot it
I have a brother so it would be pretty weird if I started acting like him. My Mandarin is my mom. She's the best and she knows what she's doing even if I don't. She's pretty, funny, and just basically awesome. Even at...umm a very old age, she's got guys lined up after her including my dad of course. I'm like her total opposite but maybe I won't be by the time I'm her age.
Loved the post!
Great post. When I was fifteen my Mandarin was my best friend, Cathy Daniels. She was beautiful, confident, and three years older than me. My charming personality dictated I hang with the older crowd.lol
We are still friends to this day and even though a lot has changed and we live far apart, when we talk we totally revert back to teenagers. Best friend I ever had. Miss you, Cathy.
I love this!!! What a sweet post for a sister, and I was *snorting* at those pouty-faced pix. LOL! Too cute~ <3
The pictures of you & your sister are adorable. :) Thanks for the great post!
I want to let out a really big AWWW at this post. I kinda wish I had an older sister (or a sister at all) that I had wished to be like and emulated.
All week I've been saying that I didn't really have a Mandarin of my own, but now that I think about it, I desperately wanted to be like my older brother when I was 5 or 6. I gave up my obsession for Barney because he thought it was stupid, so in a way, my brother was my Mandarin.
"I think the whole point is that there are all sorts of women to look up to, for all different sorts of reasons. And then somehow, while sorting out the looking up to others, you learn to sort out the being like yourself."
I love this so much. So well said. It's good to look up to someone, but only if it helps you find yourself in the process. I adored my big sis. Nobody could make me madder than she could, but I wanted so much to be like her. She was so strong and wouldn't take crap from anyone. She was my greatest defender growing up. I don't think I could ever stand up to people quite like she can (seriously, she will look you in the eye and tell you that you're trying to rip her off), but she's made me find an inner strength I didn't realize I had.
@ 15 my Mandarin was my BFF. She was pretty and fun and stayed true to herself which says a lot about a teen. She's still the same only better, if that's possible!
I don't have a particular Mandarin. I think my Mandarin is a girl created inside my head who's really a big, smashing collage of the best bits of people I see around me. I try to be like her every day.
You two are too adorable!
My Mandarin was a girl who was ALWAYS one year older and cooler, and SOMETIMES my best friend. We had a blast together, and if I got into trouble (nothing big--just silly things I wouldn't have thought of by myself), we were together. We played in the water by the curb when it rained (and got in trouble), ate old candy we found in the garage that made us vomit, and picked fights with our older brothers. Aw, those were the days... ;) I need to call her and see what she's up to, huh?
I would be love to be Taylor Swift. Taylor is on of my idols and I admire how she overcame bullying. She was bullied for being different in school, for liking country music, for her curly hair. She taught me that I should embrace my hair, no matter how unruly it gets and not straighten it like she did just to fit in.
But the main reason why I want to be Taylor is because I want her amazing confidence. I still don't dare to stand on stage and belt out a solo. I don't dare to go to school with my hair let down. Her confidence is what I love the most about her. I may not personally know Taylor but she is someone I'd love to be.
kate.readthisbook [at] gmail [dot] com
Thanks for sharing this, the pics made it even more personal!
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