As a huge fan of YA, I am constantly looking for good, fun books. A couple weeks ago, I picked up That Boy, which was exacly what I was looking for. There I was, reading along, minding my own business and enjoying myself, when I got to a part of the story that started to get bizarre for me. Let me explain.
I am an alumnus of the sorority Alpha Sigma Alpha (Beta Lambda chapter), and I was an active member Spring 2006 – Spring 2008. As I was reading That Boy, it was nice to see an author write about the Greek system in a way that lets the reader know they’ve actually experienced it. Too often, I’ll see authors fall into the trap of exaggerating bad behavior and devising unrealistic scenarios that would never happen in real life. But Jillian didn’t do that. She kept it real.
One of the aspects of Greek life she highlighted was the candlelight ceremony used to announce engagements. My sorority did the exact same thing mentioned in the book. Someone would tell the President that there needed to be a candlelight ceremony and a candle would be decorated. At our weekly meeting, the lights would all of a sudden get turned off, and the President would whip out the candle and light it as we all linked arms in a large circle. Then it would pass the circle twice as we sang our sorority song – once to say what the announcement was (“Engagement!”), and the second time for the newly engaged girl to blow out the candle. At that point, everyone goes crazy and it’s just a good time.
Anyway. There is a part of That Boy that you probably thought was unrealistic and absurd. I’m talking about the scene where Danny surprises Lori at her own candlelight and proposes right there, while she had no idea what was going on. That stuff never happens in real life, right? Well, you’d be wrong, because THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO ME.
As I was reading, and Danny started asking questions about the candlelight ceremony, I started getting a weird feeling. No way, I thought. There’s no way he’s going to propose exactly like my husband did. I started reading faster and faster, and sure enough, his proposal to Lori was exactly like my husband’s proposal to me. I mean, it was nearly identical. I couldn’t believe it. My candlelight proposal even came on the very last meeting I would ever attend, just like Lori’s. The only difference is that my candle had my ring (unbeknownst to me at the time) tied to the candle with a ribbon, because that’s what our sorority does.
The first thing I did after reading this part was look up the publication date for the book. I wondered for a split second if my husband had seen this book somehow (though YA is definitely not his preferred genre), and “borrowed” the idea. But nope! That Boy was published in 2011, and he proposed in 2008. The second thing I did was look up a picture of Jillian, because I was convinced one of my sorority sisters was moonlighting as a YA author under a pseudonym. But that wasn’t the case, either. It was just an unbelievable coincidence.
I immediately (like, immediately. I was in mid-sentence when I put the book down) sent a message to Jillian on Goodreads, and she asked me to write up my story. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m also including a couple of pictures my sisters took when it actually happened. The quality isn’t that great because the lighting was weird, and there was a lot of commotion, but you get the idea.
Just like Danny, my husband contacted a pledge sister, Anna, who recruited two other pledge sisters to help. Between all of them, a candle was made, the President was informed that not only would there be a candlelight, but it would be a proposal. We don’t have sorority houses at my alma mater, but each sorority has a big chapter room in one building. Another sister had the job of waiting in the lobby while we went up to our room for our last meeting of the school year (and my last meeting ever) and letting my husband into the building. They walked up to the 3rd floor and waited outside until the moment the candle got passed back to me. I passed it on to my pledge sister, who promptly gave it right back to me. Like Lori, I was extremely confused and had no idea why in the world she did that. But at that moment, my husband opened the doors and walked into the dimly lit room. I was in shock, I guess, because I didn’t know why he was there. My sisters said “Go!” and pushed me forward to the middle of the circle. He took the candle from me and got down on one knee and gave a little speech. I was still in shock, but I said yes (of course) and blew out the candle. Then all my sisters started cheering and congratulated us, and it was just a whirlwind of an experience. It was pretty awesome, I must say, and it was pretty awesome to read That Boy and see my proposal played out again. Thanks for the good read, Jillian, and I can’t wait to read That Wedding! -Shanna
I was so excited when Shanna messaged me on Goodreads. I thought it was sooooo amazingly cool that something out of my imagination had happened to someone in real life!! I’m telling y’all there are a lot of dreamy guys out there. You just have to find the right one for you!!! A big thanks to Shanna for letting me share her story!!! -Jillian