by Veronica Bartles
Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. The only thing Andi’s sure she has going for her is her awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina's perfect everything else.
When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough, and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and get the guy.
Step 1: Admit she’s powerless to change her perfect sister, and accept that her life really, really sucks.
Step 4: Make a list of her good qualities. She MUST have more than just great hair, right?
Step 7: Demand attention for more than just the way she screws things up.
When a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi realizes that her twelve-step program isn’t working. Her prince isn’t as charming as she'd hoped, and the spotlight she’s been trying to steal isn’t the one she wants.
As Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.
Guest Post by Veronica Bartles
My favorite part about writing TWELVE STEPS was the relationship between the two sisters, Andi and Laina. Even though they drive each other crazy, they mostly love each other. I have three sisters. I was sandwiched in between the “gorgeous and insanely popular” sister and the “too adorable for words” sister. As “the smart one,” I felt like I could never keep up. But even though we often fought in the privacy of our own shared bedroom, my sisters and I loved each other like crazy, and we knew we could always count on each other when it really mattered. That’s the kind of relationship Andi and Laina have.
My sister and I were in the band together in high school, and for the band banquet at the end of my senior year, each of the seniors was assigned to an underclassman for the senior roast. Of course, they paired me with my little sister (who was a sophomore), since she would obviously be the most likely to have great dirt.
She spent weeks tormenting me.
“Remember the time we were getting on the bus after the band trip, and you tripped and fell flat on your face because [name of guy I had a crush on omitted] asked you for a piece of gum? Maybe I’ll tell that story. I could even just stand up there and present you with a package of gum and tell you not to trip.”
“Remember that time I stole your diary and read all about your secret crush on [name of different guy omitted]? Maybe I could tell the story about how you pretended to fall asleep on the bus so you could lean your head on his shoulder.” “Remember that [even more embarrassing story – mortifying enough that I don’t even want to give a clue here]? Maybe I’ll tell that story. People would think it’s hilarious!”
Every day, she thought up a new, even more embarrassing tale that she could share when her turn came. And even though I begged her to have mercy, she insisted that the whole point of the senior roast was to come up with the most embarrassing stories possible. Everyone would be disappointed if she didn’t have something spectacularly embarrassing to share about me. That’s why they picked her to do it, after all.
By the time the band banquet rolled around, I was so nervous that I thought about skipping it altogether. But I knew that would be even worse than bravely facing the embarrassment I’d soon endure. If I wasn’t there when she told whatever embarrassing tale she was about to share, there was no way I could even hope to do any kind of damage control. So I dressed up and plastered a smile on my face and walked into the banquet with my head held high. And when it was our turn, I stood in front of the room with her, trying not to hyperventilate as my little sister prepared to destroy me.
She pulled out a pack of gum and flashed an evil grin at me, as she rolled her eyes toward the boy I had a crush on, who was sitting right in the front of the room.
I think my heart stopped beating.
Then, without saying a word, she set the gum down on the table beside her and pulled out a pair of angel wings and a halo. “I know I was supposed to find some embarrassing story to tell,” she said, “but you’ve all met Veronica. She’s kind of perfect. She doesn’t really make mistakes. And I couldn’t find anything worth sharing. I guess Veronica’s just an angel.”
Because that’s what sisters do. We may torment and tease, and make life miserable from time to time, but at the end of the day, we’re here for each other.
No matter what.
As the second of eight children and the mother of four, Veronica Bartles is no stranger to the ups and downs of sibling relationships. (She was sandwiched between the gorgeous-and-insanely-popular older sister and the too-adorable-for-words younger sister.)
She uses this insight to write stories about siblings who mostly love each other, even while they’re driving one another crazy.
When she isn’t writing or getting lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, Veronica enjoys knitting fabulous bags and jewelry out of recycled plastic bags and old VHS tapes, sky diving (though she hasn’t actually tried that yet), and inventing the world’s most delectable cookie recipes. TWELVE STEPS is Veronica Bartles's first novel.
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