Paper or Plastic
by Vivi Barnes
Release Date: 2015
Summary from Goodreads:
Welcome to SmartMart, where crime pays minimum wage...
Busted. Alexis Dubois just got caught shoplifting a cheap tube of lipstick at the local SmartMart. She doesn’t know what’s worse—disappointing her overbearing beauty-pageant-obsessed mother for the zillionth time…or her punishment. Because Lex is forced to spend her summer working at the store, where the only thing stranger than the staff is the customers.
Now Lex is stuck in the bizarro world of big-box retail. Coupon cutters, jerk customers, and learning exactly what a “Code B” really is (ew). And for added awkwardness, her new supervisor is the totally cute—and completely below her social sphere—Noah Grayson. Trying to balance her out-of-control mother, her starting spot on the school softball team, and her secret crush on the school geek makes for one crazy summer. But ultimately, could the worst store in the world be the best thing that ever happened to her?
Vivi Barnes is the author of Olivia Twisted and the upcoming release, Paper or Plastic. She was raised on a farm in East Texas where her theater-loving mom and cowboy dad gave her a unique perspective on life. Now living in the magic and sunshine of Orlando, Florida, she divides her time writing, working, goofing off with her husband and three kids, and avoiding dirty dishes. www.vivibarnes.com
I have a soft spot for books that feature a series of inter-related characters (think Dee Henderson) or books with a full, quirky cast. 'Paper or Plastic' falls into this latter category. Each character is fully formed and alive. Each becomes endearing in their own way.
'PoP' is like a coming of age story for MC Lex, but it is more of an eye opener. We jump into Lex's life just after her first foray into shoplifting. Instead of jail time, she is forced to work her summer at SmartMart. Lex believes she is above this and better than all the other employees, who receive her with mixed emotions. But as she lets her guard down, Lex starts to make friends and learn that these 'lame employees' have real lives too.
Throw in a few twists, turns, and an adorable romance and you've got yourself a worthwhile read. My one and only turn off was Noah who just seemed too 'good'. But maybe I am just not attracted to the artsy fartsy type. PoP is an adorably fun read. I can easily give it 4 stars and can recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, cute, fast spring read.
In PAPER OR PLASTIC, Lex’s rocky friendship with Noah grows more solid as she gets to know him, then gradually turns into love. In my opinion, there’s nothing more thrilling than the moment you realize you’re falling for “him.” This scene takes place after Noah and Lex bump into each other outside of SmartMart (in the most unlikely of places—a dress shop). They decide to escape from their families and head to a nearby café...
“So why are you so in love with SmartMart?” I asked.
“I never said I was in love with it.” He took a sip of his coffee. “I like working there because I have a better chance at getting experience that most places don’t offer to people our age.”
“Yeah, but why do you care? I mean, are you planning to stay at SmartMart forever? Or do you want to be a grocery store manager when you graduate?”
His eyebrows pinched as if he thought I was making fun of him, but I wasn’t. I really wanted to know.
“No,” he said finally. “I’m working to get money for college. But I was serious about the experience. It’s good that Mr. Hanson’s letting me learn management—it might come in handy someday. At the very least, it’ll look good on a résumé.”
I stirred my tea. “What do you want to do? I mean, when you go to college?”
He smiled, a nice, faraway kind of smile. “Architecture. I love drawing, outlining plans for buildings. Sketching.” He was silent for a moment, his gaze drifting to the small black and white pictures on the wall of various landmarks. “There’s something to be said for structural lines, the way they converge. Beautiful.”
His eyes were soft as they moved over the images. For the first time, I saw him as someone more than the shy SmartMart manager who tolerated me, more than the reclusive kid at school whose gaze never lifted above the ground or the guy who’d snitched on Bryce. Noah seemed so much older than his age. As he talked about his passion for architecture, something deep inside me stirred—a complicated, twisting knot that I had a feeling was going to unfurl painfully, frustratingly slowly.
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