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Shoplifters Of The World Unite And Take Over

Jenny reviews Trinkets by Kirsten Smith, a book about friendship, social status, and shoplifting.

Shoplifters Of The World Unite And Take Over

BOOK REPORT for Trinkets by Kirsten Smith

Cover Story: Skins
BFF Charm: Yay, YAY, & Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: -6/+6, 7, -10/+4
Talky Talk: She Said, She Said, She Said
Bonus Factors: Quest, Big Brother
Relationship Status: Shopping Buddies

Cover Story: Skins

I love the grainy quality of the photo, and the harshness of the black title bar. It looks appropriate for the story itself, and makes me think about the first two seasons of Skins (BBC version). Which I love.

The Deal:

Three girls walk into a Shoplifter's Anonymous meeting -- a burnout, a Good Girl, and the prom queen. Haha, sorry, I couldn't help that setup.

Moe has been attending SA for a while now, and the most exciting thing that usually happens is waiting for that old dude to fall out of his chair after he's been snoring for a while, which would be great, if only to break up the monotony of the monologue coming from the World's Unhappiest Housewife. That is, before goody-two-shoes Elodie and Mean Girl Tabitha show up. Because all three girls go to the same school, but they definitely don't travel in the same circles. Ever.

In order to do damage control -- because let's face it, she's the one whose reputation would suffer -- Tabitha decides to reach out to the other two after the meeting… and ends up challenging them to a steal-off.

Soon the unlikely trio discover that they're bonding over more than just shoplifting, but is the world (meaning the high school they attend) ready for them to actually be friends? And more importantly, are they?

BFF Charm: Yay, Yay, & Eventually!

Moe may have been my favorite of the girls, and a great example of how reputation can make or break you. No one looks past the surface of her punked-out clothing, streaked hair, and the group she hangs with. She's friends with the burnouts, so she's a burnout, and of course she's a Bad Girl who steals. And does other bad stuff. Of course she does. Only maybe not.

Then again, I loved Elodie, too! After her mother's death, her father's subsequent marriage to a much younger woman, and their move to get a fresh start, she hasn't found her place. So she just tries to blend, except for that compulsion to have a little bit of control… which lands her in SA. The thing about Elodie is that she's pretty and likable. She could totally be a Popular Girl like Tabitha, except that she's inherently kind, and would never do the mean things that seem to be required to make it to the Upper Crust. I don't want to make her sound twee or affected, but Elodie is good in an effortless, genuine way. She's also sarcastic and funny, which is nice.

Tabitha had to work to win my heart -- meaning, she had to grow, change, and stop being such a Regina George. But as the story developed, and she started examining her vacuous BFFs and what it actually meant to BE the Mean Girl, I found myself slowly growing to love her.

Swoonworthy Scale: -6/+6, 7, & -10/4

Moe is in love with her next door neighbor, who spends time making out with her -- when no one's around. Because he's a popular kid and she's a burnout, he doesn't acknowledge her in public. So obviously, even while your heart breaks for her, you want to Auntie Mame her a little bit and tell her to dump his ass, even if his hair does flop a certain way, and he lets her see a side of him no one else does. But then some things happen that change the swoon scale.

Elodie's romance is as sweet and fluttery as she is -- the perfect balance of nice and tingly.

Tabitha is dating the star athlete/popular guy in school -- someone she reminds herself daily that she should be crazy about. Only, he's a little bit bland. Oh, and there's the bit where he's also a major douchecanoe with violent tendencies. But as Tabitha's friendship with Moe and Elodie grows (along with Tabitha herself) the author introduces a development with lots of potential.

Talky Talk: She Said, She Said, She Said

Smith writes in three distinct styles -- and voices: Moe's journal entries, Elodie's free verse, and Tabitha's more traditional narrative. Now, before you go all Fred Savage about the free verse thing, let me tell you that this did not feel like a *gasp!* poetry book. Elodie's entries are delightful, insightful and funny, but most importantly, they're not precious. Here's an example:

A stolen present
means way more than one that's been bought
because of what you had to go through to get it.

I was worried, initially, that this book was going to be too stressful, what with all the stealing. Because how do you write a book about shoplifting, and not make it an After School Special? This. This is how. Now, of course, stealing is wrong. We all know that. But this focuses more on the psychology behind the stealing, than it does on making obvious judgements. The shoplifting was actually a small part of the story, and it's unputdownableness was due to the storytelling and characters, rather than the suspense of Getting Caught. In fact, due to the humor throughout, and the way everything wrapped up in a somewhat unrealistic but thoroughly satisfying end, the author managed to make a book about Issues a sweet, touching, kind of light read.

Also! Did I mention the THREE distinct voices? Smith managed, in her prose (and verse) to have three equal -- but different -- lead protagonists. Somebody give this lady a prize!

Bonus Factor: Quest

So okay, a steal-off isn't exactly your typical quest, but these girls made it feel more like a scavenger hunt. The stolen items showed us much more about the girls than we would have gained from a Cinnabon hangout session. Plus, there's a little surprise.

Bonus Factor: Big Brother

Marc, Moe's big brother, is awesome in that way that only cool older brothers can be -- both as an anchor for his younger sister, and an object of crushdom for her friends.

Casting Call:

I love it when I have a clear idea of who I'd cast from the opening pages of the book:

Hannah Murray as Moe

Taissa Farmiga as Elodie

Emma Roberts as Tabitha

Relationship Status: Shopping Buddies

I know you might think that wanting to have a book with an admitted shoplifting problem is NOT the book you want to take shopping with you, but since I've gotten to know it, I've started to trust this book. Plus, it has the perfect balance of a sense of humor and honesty. Consequently, I know that we'll have fun AND it will tell me whether or not those Joe's jeans make my butt look good enough to be worth the $150 I'd have to shell out for them. (Spoiler alert: they DO.)

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Little, Brown.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Trinkets is available now.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.