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 things stranger than the staff are 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 adorably geeky—Noah Grayson. Trying to balance her out-of-control mother, her pitching position on the softball team, and her secret crush on the school geek makes for one crazy summer. But ultimately, could the worst job in the world be the best thing that ever happened to her?
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Paper or Plastic
By Vivi Barnes, Stacy Abrams, Tara Quigley
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Vivi Barnes
All rights reserved.
It was just a cheap tube of lipstick in a shade I would never wear, if I wore lipstick at all.
Which I didn't.
So I couldn't believe I was sitting here, staring at the frosted square of glass in the door, holding my breath every time a shadow moved past.
Court shifted slightly, but her expression was bored. Her mom had already appeared, popping her head in for a few seconds to click her tongue and say, "Courtney Ann," in that slightly disappointed way that made me wish I were going home with her instead of my own mother.
Why did I do it? All I knew was that Mom's pinched expression this morning as she looked from my superstar sister, Rory, to me, the meh daughter, had been fixed in my mind. Her words, Why can't you be more like your sister, were familiar enough by now. Then she had to add in the fact that I was throwing away my future on some ridiculous pipe dream when I could be so much more. And all because I asked to go to Space Coast Fastpitch Softball Camp at the end of summer instead of joining her boring League of Southern Women group. I remember my sole thought as I slipped the lipstick into my pocket: Take that, Mom.
Still. The first really wrong thing I did in my entire life, and I got caught.
The annoying ticks of the wall clock reminded me that we had been sitting here for an hour. I wanted to take the stapler off the desk and throw it at the clock as hard as I could.
"What's taking so long?" I asked Court, who was busy with her phone. Probably texting Bryce, her long-time boyfriend and one of my best friends. If it wasn't for Bryce, I don't know if I would've become friends with Court. She liked to live on the edge, way outside my comfort zone. I didn't even like shopping—that was her thing.
I wished Syd were here. As my softball teammate and forever best friend, Syd would be a whole lot better at commiserating. She'd know what to say to make me laugh instead of staring at her phone the whole time.
"I don't know," Court finally said. "I guess they're waiting for the cops."
My heart sank to my shoes. Cops? "But it was just a couple of lipsticks."
She shrugged and kept texting. How could she look so calm right now? Was it too much to hope that the store manager would talk to our parents and leave the police out of it?
"What do you think is going to happen to us?" I asked for the third time, trying to keep the shakiness out of my voice.
She sighed and looked up at me. "Seriously, Lex, stop worrying. It's not like they'll arrest us. We're only sixteen. Minors." She stuck out her tongue at the door. "My brother got in trouble for drinking vodka at a party when he was seventeen and got off with just a warning. We'll be okay."
I nodded, but that didn't make me feel better. Drinking vodka didn't exactly match up to outright theft.
The door handle turned, and both Court and I jumped to our feet. Ha! I wanted to say. You're not so cool about this after all.
The security guard stuck his head in. "Courtney?" He motioned to her. She slipped her phone back into her pocket and moved forward through the door, flipping her black curls and looking back to wink at me. Before the door closed, I could see her mother shaking her head. My throat clenched as I remembered my mother would be here any moment, and she'd be doing a whole lot more than just shaking her head. I wished my dad would show up instead, but I knew he was working.
Fifteen minutes later, Court still hadn't reappeared. My stomach churned and my throat was dry. I wondered if it would be okay to ask for water. Most of all, I wondered what happened to Court. Had she been arrested after all? If so, wouldn't they have taken me, too?
It was wrong.
It was wrong.
It was wrong.
If I repeated it enough times like a mantra, maybe I'd get out of this.
I'm an idiot.
I'm an idiot.
I'm an idiot.
Maybe they were using this as a scare tactic. Some kind of "freak the kid out so she'll never do this again" trick.
It was working.
The handle turned, breaking my thoughts, but instead of jumping up, I pressed my back against the wall. The perfumed air reached my nose even before the giant nest of blond hair breached the gap in the door.
Besides the heavy scent of gardenias that floated about her, the first thing anyone would notice about my mother was that she loomed above practically everyone. She could've been mistaken for a women's basketball player, except for the face so heavily made up that it was a wonder the foundation didn't slide off her face. I'd rarely seen her without makeup myself. I doubt my father ever had, either.
The balding, pudgy store manager who followed seemed in awe of her. Or maybe he was just afraid.
"Alexis Jasmine Dubois!"
I cringed. I hated when she said my full name, especially in front of others. It always sounded like a bunch of crappy princess names thrown together. And it was a constant reminder of what she had expected me to be and what I most definitely was not.
She glared at me before turning her sweetest pageant smile on the store manager. "I don't know where she gets these crazy ideas. I'm sure it's all on her father's side. But we really appreciate the opportunity you're giving her, Mr. Hanson."
Mr. Hanson blinked. "Oh, of course, Mrs. Dubois. I'm only too happy to extend a second chance to Alexis. My own son got in trouble when he was sixteen, so I know how having a record can damage a person's future."
My mother nodded, still smiling, though it had an edge as she glanced at me. I knew she was going to let me have it later, but I almost didn't care. I wasn't going to get arrested. He was just letting me go. The "Hallelujah" song was reverberating in my head, and I felt like hugging him.
As my mother and Mr. Hanson talked, all I could focus on was the fact that no sheriff was being called in and no handcuffs were being snapped around my wrists. I was happily oblivious to their conversation.
Until a few words yanked me back to reality.
"Just bring her in Monday morning for the paperwork and uniform shirt, and we'll be good to go," Mr. Hanson said, smiling at me.
The happiness I felt inside whooshed out of me as if someone had punched me in the stomach. I stared at him. "Um, what?"
"Mr. Hanson understands that you were acting like a stupid teenager," my mother said. "He has kindly agreed to allow you to work your summer here at SmartMart. In return, you'll get to keep the incident off your record, not to mention a paycheck. That'll be a change."
"But I'm already working this summer. Remember Let's Have a Ball? And I'm supposed to go to softball camp in August, too."
My mother's eyes narrowed slightly. She definitely remembered, and I could see she cared about it as little as if I had said I was going to get a drink of water.
I turned to Mr. Hanson before she could answer. "I'm sorry, Mr. Hanson. I really appreciate the opportunity, but I already have plans this summer."
My mother took my hand in one of hers in what would look like a loving gesture if she weren't digging her fingernails into my skin. I tried to pull away, but she had a grip of steel. "Don't be silly, Alexis. You have plenty of time before your camp, and you don't make money playing ball with little kids." She laughed lightly. She seemed to have missed the point of volunteering. "SmartMart is offering an excellent opportunity here, and I think you need to take it."
"Mr. Hanson," my mother said without lifting her eyes from me. "Would you give me just a moment alone with my daughter?"
No, don't leave me with Crazy! I wanted to shout. But I just watched, helpless in her grip, as the store manager nodded and bowed out, giving me a sympathetic look before shutting the door behind him.
As soon as the latch clicked, my mother's pretense at charm and grace dropped. "I'm going to say this once, Alexis. If you don't accept this man's offer, you'll end up with shoplifting on your record that will follow you around the rest of your life. And think about what everyone will say about my parenting skills."
"This has nothing to do with you—" I started, but she pulled me closer. I got a strong whiff of her perfume and tried not to choke.
"This has everything to do with me, not to mention your sister. Can you imagine if this followed us through the circuit? I'd be criticized for being one of those mothers who can't control her kids, and Aurora's career would be over."
Aurora's career? It was true that my mother loved pageant life more than anything else—her claim to fame was being runner-up in the Miss Florida pageant when she was young. Pictures of her glory days hung in pride on our wall, and we endured story after story about how she should have won, and how the judges just felt sorry for the girl who actually won because of her poor background. She had even tried getting me involved in pageants when I was too young to know better, except I hated every single moment of it and finally refused to do it anymore. So yes, I knew she took the whole pageant thing seriously. But a seven-year-old's career? I knew better than to roll my eyes, but in my defense, they kind of moved on their own.
They could've at least waited until my mother's back was turned.
Her lips pressed together in a cold line. "Control yourself," she hissed. "Now, you are going to take this job and be glad about it. And if you don't, you can spend your entire high school career taking the bus instead of that car you want so badly, got it?"
She had me now. I needed that car, and my mother knew it. "Wait a second, that's not fair. I've been saving up—"
"Not even enough to fund the tires," she finished. "You're expecting us to foot the rest. Which we won't do if you don't get serious and take this job. And by the way, your camp is at the end of summer, so if we agree that you can go, it shouldn't interfere."
"But Let's Have a Ball camp—"
"You put in what, five or six unpaid hours a week there?"
"Eight," I mumbled. It would be more if I had a car to drive myself, but I didn't want to go there.
"Exactly. Plenty of time left for a real job."
"Your father will agree with me. You have your choice. Take it or leave it."
Some choice. I knew I would have to do what she said. The car and my softball camp were the only things she could really hold over my head. "Fine," I whispered.
She turned on a heel and opened the door. "Mr. Hanson?" Her voice sounded musical again.
He entered the room, his face politely inquisitive.
"She'll be delighted to accept the position."
Hanson clapped his pudgy hands together. "Wonderful! Welcome to the team, Alexis."
I reached out to shake his extended hand, trying to smile. I sucked at acting. My eyes dropped to the floor while he and my mother chatted.
SmartMart—Where Everybody Farts. That's what everyone called this place ever since some guy posted a People of SmartMart video on YouTube. It was a contest for whoever could take the funniest video or picture with their cell phone and post it on his blog. I sent in two—one of a woman walking around with a dressed-up dog in a stroller and another of an employee talking animatedly to herself. I didn't win, but the one that did showed a guy bending to pick up something and farting really loudly. The woman's puckered face behind him was priceless.
I felt sick to my stomach as my mother and I left the store. The fact that I wasn't going to jail should've made me feel relieved, but at the moment, all I could do was feel sorry for the situation I'd gotten myself into.
Grandma opened the front door as soon as my hand touched the knob. "Well, well, well," she said as my mother breezed past us into the house. Grandma looked unusually grim, her short red nails clicking against the wood frame. "I understand you've been doing time."
I swallowed hard, my stomach knotting inside me.
She held out her hand. "What I want to know is why you're holding out on your grandma. I could use a little more color in my lips."
I moved past her into the house as she laughed. "Funny. Mom told you, huh?"
"Well, I overheard her conversation with whoever called earlier. Let me tell you, I'd be surprised if the whole neighborhood didn't hear, loud as she was jabbering."
In the other room, I could hear my mother ranting on the phone to my dad. I could picture him on the other end, sighing and saying, "I know, dear, yes dear."
"She's pretty mad," I said.
"What were you thinking, Lexie? That's not like you to steal. Gamble and drink, maybe, but not steal."
"The gambling and drinking got old."
She cocked her head at me, one penciled eyebrow raised in a perfect arch. I sighed. "Court wanted to see if we could get away with it. It was stupid, I know."
She wrinkled her nose. "Oh, that girl. She's going to find herself in jail one day if she's not careful."
Grandma didn't really dislike Court. She even said she saw herself in her. Grandma considered herself a hell-raiser—being the only one out of her five brothers and sisters to have both a college education and a criminal record. If standing up for human rights during the civil rights movement in the sixties could be considered hell-raising. I was proud of her for it, though.
"I'm going upstairs," I said, kissing her cheek. "Try not to get in trouble while I'm gone."
My phone buzzed in my pocket as I walked up to my room. It was Court.
I typed my response. Yep. C U at SM Monday?
Um I got out of it.
My heart sank. I scrolled through my contacts to find Court's name, but before I could call her, the phone buzzed with an incoming call from Syd. I pressed the answer key and before I could even say anything, Syd said, "Oh God, Lex, are you okay? Court told me what happened."
I sighed. "Yeah, I'm okay."
"Girl, I can't believe you let Court talk you into stealing. Why do we even put up with her?"
"Because she's Bryce's girlfriend," I said, still annoyed at Court's text. It was true—I liked Court, she was usually a lot of fun—but crap like this made me wonder why I even liked her, other than the fact that she was dating one of my best friends. And now she somehow got out of working at SmartMart—figures. "But it was my fault, too. I didn't need to do it. And now I'm stuck working at crappy SmartMart for the rest of the summer." I explained about the deal my mother made with the manager. To which she had the obvious response: "Oh my God, you're going to be like those people on that video."
"Shut up, I am not."
"I think my great-grandma has some old slippers and a muumuu you could borrow."
"Shut up, Syd." But I was laughing now. Syd always made me feel better.
"You could've at least stolen from a better store," she joked. "Seriously, though, is there a way we can get you out of it? Cole and Ryan are gonna be in town, and I thought it'd be fun to hang out."
I rolled my eyes, glad Syd couldn't see me. Cole and Ryan were twins from our neighborhood who attended a school for the arts in New York. They'd always been obnoxious, but it'd gotten worse since they'd been accepted to that school. Syd had a thing for them since forever. "I don't know that I want to spend the summer watching you drool over those jerks," I said.
"Well, last summer Cole told me Ryan was totally into you. I thought you'd at least want to, you know—"
"No thanks. I don't speak imbecile," I said, inwardly gagging. Syd and Court had been trying to set me up with someone since I broke up with my last boyfriend several months ago. Most of the guys I knew were totally immature with a one-track mind. "I might consider making out with him if it'd get me out of this stupid job, though. It's not fair. Court said she didn't have to take the deal. How'd she get out of it?"
"Because Court does whatever Court wants. Her mom's easy like that."
I spent a few more minutes on the phone with Syd before hanging up. I had looked forward to summer so much—I adored the kids at Let's Have a Ball camp, and with college only two years away, volunteering was really important. Not to mention things I took for granted every summer, like playing volleyball at the beach with my friends and working on my pitch. Now that most of my friends had cars—except me, of course—it would've been an awesome summer.
Excerpted from Paper or Plastic by Vivi Barnes, Stacy Abrams, Tara Quigley. Copyright © 2015 Vivi Barnes. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A fun, fast-paced teen romance full of heart, light and enjoyable characters, Vivi Barnes has added in some serious themes that add to, rather than detract from the story. Alexis is caught shoplifting but in exchange for not calling the police, she is expected to work at the SmartMart by the store’s owner. Not particularly interested in the other employees of the supermarket, she’s a bit of a tough pill at first, until the quirkiness and characters who work there start to befriend her. From there, Alexis shows the girl she was meant to be: funny, honest, loving and caring; sure she had those teen moments, but overall she was a young girl learning her way in the world. Her manager Noah is one of the reasons for this change: first offering friendship and showing Alexis that it is possible to be a teen and still think of others first, his character was lovely. Working multiple hours and jobs he’s earning extra money so his little sister can continue to enter beauty pageants: her favorite hobby. Noah never gets resentful or fussy about doing all that work, even as Barnes does add in some of the ‘not so wonderful’ elements about the pageant industry. These are mentioned, never dwelled on, but give readers something more to think about. Other characters in the grocers are introduced, with bits about their lives, their quirks and even their friendship with Alexis. They added depth and a fullness, and brought some new issues for readers: showing that not all is as it seems. Fortunately, Barnes avoids the love triangle in this: while Alexis does have some doubts about her choice of Noah, it is more a loyalty to another friend who believes Noah has mistreated him than a triangle. As Alexis determines what it is she really wants, the relationship between the two really starts to blossom and become a romance, fully grounded in friendship. A fun, quick read that isn’t as fluffy as others I have read with teens at the center: this story is sure to entertain readers looking for characters that feel familiar and possible. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This waa a rorally awsome book about Alexis and her crush!!
Review also posted at: http://underthebookcover.blogspot.com/2016/08/book-review-paper-or-plastic-by-vivi.html 4/5 Thank you to Entangled Teen for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for review! Paper or Plastic is a wonderful contemporary that follows Lex and her summer working at SmartMart, the same store that she just shoplifted a tube of cheap lipstick from. Despite the job being boring, Lex is delighted to find out that she has a hot manager named Noah Grayon. Too bad he's the enemy of her best friend, Bryce. Through trying to balance work, softball, her pageant obsessed mother, and her new secret crush, working at SmartMart is turning out to be one crazy summer job. I absolutely adored this book! There were so many quirky, fun characters that I loved getting to read about, and Lex was certainly a wonderful main character to follow. I really enjoyed getting to know her on more than just a surface level and learning about her passion for softball and her dream of being on an Olympic softball team one day. She was funny, sassy, and really seemed to care about all of the friendships that she made with people. Noah was also really cute, in the shy, nerdy kid way. He was so faithful to his friends and his relationship with his little sister was absolutely adorable. Along with Lex and Noah, there was quite a cast of characters that worked at SmartMart. While they may not have been main characters, I certainly believe that they all added their own little elements of fun and quirk to the story. Ruthie was the spastic, energetic greeter who was always smiling and happy to see each customer that walked into the store. Bessie was the grandmotherly type that tried to look after every employee and make sure they were happy. There was also Jake, the former clown and store prankster, and Roxanne, who was constantly rude but still added to the SmartMart crew. I think that Paper or Plastic is a very character-driven story, and all of this unique characters really made the reading experience that much better. What I enjoyed so much about this book was that it wasn't just a happy, fun contemporary. There were several serious moments, such as Noah's home issues and even a tornado coming through Florida. But I liked that it wasn't just a cheesy romance-filled book, although there was plenty of romance between Lex and Noah! With all of the various parts of this book combined, Vivi Barnes was able to spin a lovable book that I would definitely read multiple times! It has a great end-of-summer feeling to it that I feel was a perfect pickup for this time of year and I just fell so in love with the whole thing. With a super cute plot and very interesting and fun characters, Paper or Plastic is the perfect pickup for anyone looking for an end-of-summer contemporary. The writing is so easy to get lost in and it's just a really fun read that is sure to keep you hooked. Be sure to pick up Paper or Plastic by Vivi Barnes and get ready to learn exactly what a "Code B" is!
**Thank you so much to the publisher for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!** There's just something about reading a contemporary in summer. I think that's why I was so pumped to read Paper or Plastic! The story basically follows a girl named Alexis who recently tried to steal from SmartMart. She ends up getting told that she can work at SmartMart for the summer in order to make up for it and she'd even get paid. This way, it won't show up on her permanent record. Her mom is so enthusiastic about this opportunity and has Alexis take advantage of it. However, Alexis doesn't really want to be caught dead at SmartMart. Alas, she takes the job anyways. At her job, she ends up meeting Noah, who is a grade above her at school and just happens to be so cute. The two of them get closer as the summer goes on. I thought that the romance was very cute and believable. Alexis liked to think that she was too good for SmartMart a lot of the time, but Noah showed her that working there was really a good opportunity. Plus, she gets to make a little extra money, which is never a bad thing. I found the reason behind why Alexis was offered a job at SmartMart to be really touching. I don't know why, but this stuck with me throughout the book! The owner's son was actually caught stealing somewhere once and he didn't get the chance to redeem himself, so the owner thought that Alexis deserved a second chance, which is why she was offered the job in the first place. I loved Alexis's character growth and development. She started out as someone who thought that SmartMart was a place for nobodies to work; people that were going nowhere in life. However, that slowly changed as the novel went on. In the end, I really liked this book. It was a cute, quick read and I loved the romance!
Sometimes you need a book that is just, well, pleasing, for lack of a better word, and Paper or Plastic was that book for me. For a variety of reasons, life has been rather stressful recently and this book proved to be an oasis at a time when I could truly appreciate it. Lex's summer is a delight to watch and she and her fellow characters are so appealing. I recently finished a book in which I disliked, even hated, almost every single character but that is certainly not the case here. Lex is a fairly typical teenager, like so many who are just decent people. How can you not like a girl who's into softball and actually enjoys playing the game with disadvantaged kids? Noah, not to mention Grandma, Bessie, Syd and the irrepressible Ruthie are each appealing in one way or another and even the annoying folks in Lex's life, including her mom and little sister, are much like the annoying family members you and I might very well have. Lex's misdeed and the resultant punishment are a perfect foil for this girl, who already has a head on her shoulders, to grow up a little more and come to appreciate people and situations that she might not have in the past. They also help her cope with a very real problem, the encroaching Alzheimer's that is affecting her beloved grandmother. One last thing I'll mention is the relationship between Lex and the delectable Noah. Noah is not perfect, any more than Lex is, and there are issues that get in the way but Ms. Barnes lets their feelings grow naturally---thank heavens for no insta-love! All in all, Paper or Plastic is fun and engaging and a slice of life and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with Lex & Company.
When Alexis is caught shoplifting, her penance is a summer working at SmartMart. She's popular, pretty, and athletic, with big dreams for her future. So why screw all that up for a lousy tube of lipstick? Mommy issues. Loads of them. After failing to talk her way out of her punishment, she begrudgingly settles into her job, battling with customers, tolerating odd co-workers, and eyeing the hot manager. When it turns out that hot manager is none other than Noah Grayson, her BFF's arch nemisis, things get complicated. Plot The story starts off fairly slow as Alexis learns the ins and outs of SmartMart, from greeter, to register duty, bathroom cleaning, and floor assignments. More than a few colorful characters work in and frequent SmartMart. Things don't really start to pick up until about midway through the book. The relationship between Lex and Noah is the main plot, but several subplots are woven in, including Lex's spot as the starting pitcher on her softball team, her relationship with her mother, her grandmother's Alzheimer's, Noah's family, and Lex's friendship with Bryce when he discovers what's going on between his best friend and the kid he loathes. That's a lot of plotting, but it never gets confusing. All of it is woven together really well, enriching the story. But with that much going on, it would have been nice for things to start moving a little earlier in the book. World Building The bulk of the story takes place inside SmartMart, and author, Vivi Barnes, does an outstanding job of bringing it to life in all it's technicolor glory. I felt like I was right there inside my nearest big box retailer with Lex, Noah, Ruthie and the others. Characters The characters were quirky and well-developed. Both Lex and Noah were layered and deep and went through incredible growth through the book. Lex has a lot to deal with, but she matures so much over the summer, finally finding her voice when it comes to Bryce. And Noah is a complicated boy, but he is one of the more interesting male characters I've read in young adult fiction in a while. The rest of the cast are perfect in their roles, and I love that none of them are stereotypical. Everyone from Lex's spoiled sister, Rory to Noah's sweet little sister Belle, Ruthie the SmartMart greeter who likes to play shopping cart coaster, and even Bryce bring out a side to both Noah and Lex than we might not otherwise see. Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Paper or Plastic 1. Noah Grayson. I have identical twin sons named Noah and Grayson. There is no way I wasn't going to love this boy. 2. Child pageants. Because they really are just that awful! 3. Ruthie. Vivi Barnes does a phenomenal job of creating a character that is as endearing as she is annoying. We all know at least one person like this and we can't help but love them. 4. Lex. She's smart, loyal, modest, and brave, and when the chips are down, you definitely want her on your side. 5. The ending. I love how the story ended, but the author left me just enough hope that there could be a second book, continuing Lex and Noah's story. Bottom Line Paper or Plastic is both a fun, light-hearted read and something deeper that will stick with me in the coming weeks. Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
“Paper or Plastic” is exactly what it intends to be: a light ya romance and palate cleanser. It fulfills its purpose wonderfully. The characters are engaging and fun, all of them with underlying issues that a revealed throughout the book. They grow a surprising amount as people given the length and lightness of the plot. It’s easy to find yourself relating to them in some way and I found myself more invested in their lives more than I expected to be. The plot is solid and deals with some heavier issues like bullying, Alzheimer’s, and child abuse while somehow managing to keep the tone light and humorous for the most part. The writing is done in a style that makes it a quick read, and the teenagers speak like actual teenagers, which is something I am always appreciative of when digging in to a ya novel. I can’t finish the review without noting that the author has very obviously worked at a retail chain of some sort in the past. The horrors of retail were enough to bring me back nightmares about my days at a grocery chain. In spite of the nightmares, reading about the customers had me literally laughing out loud. Well done, Vivi Barnes. “Paper or Plastic” is obviously meant for the teen market, but there are few things explicit enough for parents of younger teens to worry about. I recommend it for those looking for a quick romantic read filled with humor and just the right amount of sweetness. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
3.25/5 stars Technically I would rate this 3.25 out of 5 stars and now that the technicalities are out of the way, I really liked this book! I know what you're thinking: if you liked it so much, why the low rating? Fair question, it comes down to rereadability in comparison with other books, I guess. If I wanted to read a swoony book (basically every day of my life), I just don't think I'd reach for this, I would probably grab one of my many swoontastic books from my collection. So basically, it wasn't the best but I really did enjoy it! Now, on to the review! Lex is a popular softball player who idiotically lets her friend talk her into stealing lipstick from SmartMart. While her friend's mom gets her out of any punishment, Lex's mom works out a deal with the manager for her to work at SmartMart in the summer to learn some responsibility. SmartMart is known for its crazies (like Wal-Mart) and Lex wants nothing to do with them or the store. We get to understand Lex in this book and one of her biggest issues is perception, she worries about how people perceive her and how they perceive the people she surrounds herself with. I thought it was really understandable, especially for a high schooler, and it made me like the love interest even more. Enter Noah Grayson. Noah is essentially a social pariah at school, known by the masses as the guy who ratted out Bryce, Lex's best friend and baseball superstar, for vandalizing a rival school's property. I loved how different Noah is from Lex, he doesn't see the point in worrying what others think and he calls out Lex on multiple occasions for it. I really loved them together. I thought it was interesting that Noah was such a pariah that Lex didn't even recognize him at first; she's tuned him out as a person that she couldn't recognize the guy with a new haircut. As you can imagine, the majority of the humans aren't particularly fond of Lex and Noah together. Drama ensues, naturally. As for the minor characters, I didn't like them. Like any of them. Maybe they weren't developed enough or something but I could care less about everyone except for Lex and Noah. Since it's a romance book (and I love my swoons), there were some swoons, not the best I've ever read but some notable swoons definitely. Some of the circumstances were outlandish but that's to be expected. For the most part, I enjoy outlandish scenarios and Vivi wrote some fun scenes. Overall, I really liked this book; it was a quick, fun, contemporary with a sweet romance.
What an easy and lovable read! As someone who put in their fair share of time in retail hell, Paper or Plastic had me laughing and nodding along as I read. The situations and customers that Lex is faced with whenever she unhappily takes a job at SmartMart are realistic without being too heavy or overdone. This book was the perfect mix of humor, reality, and romance! Lex has a lot to deal with at home; an overbearing mother, a bratty little sister, a passive father, and an ailing grandmother. I found her to be more mature than I was expecting, and I was quick to fall into a comfortable place with her character. I felt like the romance between her and Noah was really fitting. It unfolded in an organic way at the perfect pacing! That can be rare in YA these days, so it was very much appreciated. Even though Paper or Plastic is a fun read, it has surprising depth. It isn't over done or in your face, but when you look closely there's a hidden message about coming of age and growing up. I hope fans of YA contemporaries love it just as much as I have! **I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review with no compensation.
Such a fun story! Watching Lex grow up over the course of her summer made for a real feel-good YA romance. Even though not everything she encounters is positive--facing the harsh reality of her grandmother's condition, for instance, and learning the truth about a long-ago incident and one of her best friends--she manages to make the right decisions, even when it's difficult. Well, she does eventually, anyway. ;) I really enjoyed Ms. Barnes' style of writing, even when the glimpses into childhood beauty pageants had me cringing. (Loved the Disney princess names, though--cute touch!) Lex and Noah were likable characters, and so easy to root for. I would have liked to have seen how they kept their relationship going into September, but understand why the book ended when it did. (cough, cough--sequel!--cough) Lex's experiences at SmartMart gave me total flashbacks to my first real job (back when we had to ask, "Paper or plastic?" Every. Single. Time...and give as sincere a smile as possible for all those lovely customers who wanted both). Ms. Barnes has obviously worked in retail. She's got the crazy customers--and the crazier coworkers--down pat. ;) Rating: 4 stars / A- I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
I requested this book for review from Entangled Teen because I heard the book was funny and relatable for anyone who had worked retail in their life. I worked retail throughout some of high school and college, so I thought it would be fun to here about all the behind-the-scenes stuff I know goes on. While the book does cover some of those quirky retail antics, it didn't focus on that as much as I thought it would. The main issue I had with this story is that I didn't love the main character, Lex. She seemed spoiled and ignorant much of the time. I find it unrealistic that she would have changed so much after a week or two of working at SmartMart. I thought the whole softball aspect of the plot was really unnecessary and distracting. The storyline got a bit busy at points and then boring at others. While the book is well-written for the most part, I just didn't find myself enthralled in the story. I think the story had potential but it fell flat for me, though I will say that the second half was much stronger than the first. I liked the familial aspects of the story, with Lex's grandmother and Noah's family situation. The story also felt rushed at the end and I would've liked to see more development. Overall, the book is a cute and quick read. I personally wouldn't recommend it but I know some people might enjoy this one! Content Rating: PG Language: Mild Violence: Mild Drugs/Alcohol: Mild Sex: Mild Rating: 3 stars
"Paper or Plastic" by Vivi Barnes is a cute story. Alexis or Lex is tired of being the odd one out. Lex feels like her mother spends more time with her sister than with her. Lex just can't seem to find anywhere to fit in. When Lex decides to shoplift a tube of lipstick, she ends up getting caught. Her parents are called, the store owner gives them two options. Lex can work at the store for the summer or she can be charged with stealing. Alexis thinks this will be the best summer of her life once she spots the cute assistant store manager. Lex is definitely in for a surprise. "Paper or Plastic" is definitely an enjoyable read but I think it could have been better. The hardest part of this story was that the writing wasn't very good. The storyline was cute but I don't think it was very well executed. I have to say that the plot is what really makes the story. Lex has to work in the store as punishment so she doesn't end up getting a shop lifting charge. The characters in this story weren't written very well. The were hard to connect to and they weren't very fleshed out. Alexis is a very judgmental character and so I had a hard time not trying to judge her but of course I couldn't seem to relate to her at all. This story may have been cute but it definitely wasn't a favorite.
SmartMart reminds me a lot of one of my retail jobs. I remember having those co-worker crushes and flirt with someone while stocking dog food. It actually makes me smile rather than be annoyed when I notice it at a store nowadays. I’ll whisper to my husband, those two totally like each other. It puts a smile on my face and so does Paper or Plastic. The thing that makes this book more unique is that the majority of it takes place in supermarket. Every once in a while they change scenery but not that often. It actually felt like it cut down on unnecessary drama. Although Bryce is a key part to the story he’s not really in it. I really liked this approach. We also get this wide range of secondary characters. The other workers at SmartMart really add this whole huge dynamic. Especially seeing Lexi interact with them. It makes her have more depth because she’s not limited to just her friends or Noah. Noah and Lexi are absolutely adorable. It’s switched up a little because often Lexi is the one that takes the lead. Rather than hoping Noah will do something she takes charge of the situation. I just loved every time one of them would get nervous around the other. It’s just so cute. I also really liked Alexis family and how they have a strong presence in her life. Her little sister annoys her, her mom doesn’t always understand her and then there is her grandmother who is her best friend. The book is an adorable sweet romance but there are also other things going on. Like Alzheimers, which if you have ever known someone with that awful disease, it is not easy for anyone. Not the person that has it or their family. Also there is the issue of abuse as well. I think if you have ever worked in retail definitely read this book. If you haven’t...well still read the book. I loved it.
Paper or Plastic is a contemporary YA romance that I thought had some very realistic moments, and some... well... slightly over the top moments. I think that Alexis and Noah are adorable. These two teenagers felt utterly familiar to me in that - I could have known these two in high school - kind of way. They're stuck in that morass of high school cliques: Alexis hangs out with the popular kids while Noah's all but invisible. When these two are thrown together because of Alexis' new job at SmartMart, they're reluctantly attracted to each other and forced to confront their own assumptions. Paper or Plastic treats both Alexis and Noah as complete individuals. I liked that I got that really strong sense of each separate area of their lives, that sense of being a slightly different version of oneself depending on context. I liked that they both have their own trials going on at home, and that their lives are full - not only with work and family and friends, but volunteer work and they're both thinking ahead to college and beyond. The book never felt overloaded, but rather like a window into a modern teenager's life, with all of its complications. I particularly loved Alexis and her growth across the book. She's got that slightly self-centric perspective when the book starts, a little bit woe-is-me and a whole lot certain when it comes to how she views other people. When she starts working at SmartMart and has to actually get to know the people that she's formed all these superficial opinions about, Alexis starts to realize how wrong she's been. Noah is absolutely book-boyfriend-worthy - a little mysterious, very sweet and an all-around upstanding guy. I loved that his confidence shifted depending on which 'hat' he was wearing (teenager, manager-in-training, big brother, etc.). While the ending was certainly more exciting than anything that ever happened to me when I was growing up, I thought it was very well-written and absolutely worked to bring all the threads of the story together. Bottom Line: Paper or Plastic is swoonworthy, realistic, sweet and so much fun. Absolutely re-readable, I'll be coming back to this one again! 5 stars Received in exchange for an honest review.
Grade: C This e-galley was provided by Entangled: Teen and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Paper or Plastic was an entertaining read but it had quite a few problems that I think could've easily been smoothed out in editing. Let me list my main problems with the book. 1) The delusional parents trope. Lex's mom hates that her daughter plays softball, is obsessed with pageants and her younger daughter Aurora, and is overbearing. Lex's dad, while somewhat present, seems more absentee than parental. 2) There was way too much telling and not enough showing. Lex would skip days in the narrative, which is fine, but then she'd tell us what had happened during training, or at work, or whatever. 3) I'm very sick of characters declaring they're in love after only really talking to each other for a few months. Sure, Lex and Noah knew each other at high school but not very well. Not well enough to likely have feelings for each other before they became coworkers. It's ok for characters to just be "in like." Other than that, Noah and Lex's relationship was cute. I liked the SmartMart dynamics, although best coworker dynamics goes to the crew in Top Ten Clues You're Clueless. I would've liked to see Lex's softball skills in action just a little bit more because she talked the talk a lot but didn't exactly walk the walk. Everything was fairly clean. I don't recall too much foul language. The Verdict: Not as good as I hoped. Still worth a read, perhaps.
Paper or Plastic was just the cute, light and enjoyable read I hoped it would be when I decided to read it. After a couple heavier books, it was just what I needed to read as a bit of a palate cleanser. I don't know about you, but I tend to enjoy books where the entitled learn a valuable life lesson. It's not a new theme in books and movies. Regardless, it's one I enjoy time and time again, especially when I can connect to the characters and the author makes it their own. While I'll admit I had a difficult time connecting to Lex in the beginning of the story, by the end I was definitely singing her praises. She was far too snobby and beside herself in the beginning of the book. After some time working at the SmartMart, expanding her horizons by working with (and getting to know) people different than those she generally hangs out with, she begins to undergo a transformation. Where she was once dismissive of the people outside her circle of (not-so-nice) friends, she begins to appreciate the other people who have entered her life since she started this job. Noah might be the catalyst for this transformation, but he's not the only new friend she makes. Noah was adorable. Of course, I've always had a thing for the geeky underdog. A respectful manager-in-training during the day and an underage bartender at night, he was sweet with an unexpected edge. He also has quite a questionable home life and bears more responsibility for his family than a kid of his age should. These were all the things that made him even more appealing to me. Of course, Lex was familiar with Noah from an incident with her friends at school, but it wasn't until they started working together that each of them began to see another side of the person they thought they knew. They started to become friends, but that inevitably led to more. They were cute and sweet together and it was easy to root for them. Paper or Plastic hit on a little bit of everything: friends, family and love. It definitely had humor and more than a couple "aww" moments. It was a light, quick read that left me smiling at the end. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Alexis gets caught stealing at SmartMart and fears she’ll be arrested. Instead they give her a job to try and help her avoid a life or crime. SmartMart is notorious for its weird customers and weirder staff so Alexis is not pleased. Until she meets gorgeous Grayson, but it turns out he’s actually loner Noah from her school. Despite her reservations Alexis learns to like the job and the people, especially, it seems, Noah. This story was cute and I definitely enjoyed it. I think it’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it was definitely enjoyable. I liked the plot especially, which made me think of Liz Czukas’s Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless (my review for this one comes out next week). I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters or writing. This book was definitely a fun, light read which surprised me with some interesting twists and turns. It caught my off guard how quickly I wound up reading this book (less than 24 hours!) so it’s definitely a fun, fast book. The plot really made this book for me. I find the idea of teenagers working in a grocery store, which is super believable first of all, really cute. I think it’s fun and realistic, which makes the story relatable. I think this book took the grocery store setting and really worked some interesting twists into it. There are some great side plots as well about softball, beauty pageants, and abuse families. There’s a wealth of interesting content in this book which makes it a really interesting read. I think the characters were a little lacking. I found Alexis shockingly naive and judgemental, which made her a little difficult to relate to. I liked Noah, his initially introduction was really excellent and set up a good base. I think the issue with Noah however was that Barnes made Noah too much. He was too many tropes rolled into one, the bad boy, the loser, the sweetheart, the shy boy, the confident man, he was all of these and more which made him basically nothing. I think Ruthie was an interesting character who wasn’t explored enough and was used as a joke fairly often which was uncomfortable. Most of the character aren’t explored enough, including the abusive Tom. While I overall found the book sweet and enjoyable, I don’t think the writing was top notch. The emotional depth required to tackle the topics in this book was just completely lacking. I couldn’t take the emotions seriously in most of the serious scenes because the depth of emotions in all the characters was just nonexistent. I think this book also relied on the over-the-top-high-school-drama plot too much as well. I liked this book, it certainly wasn’t my favourite, but it was a great quick read which would be perfect for a refresher after reading something heavy. I think fans of Jennifer Echols and Kasie West would enjoy this book.
I found this book to be as sweet as I had anticipated it to be. I particulary liked the premise - something I had not really seen before. I liked the main characters enough but was not head over heels about them. I particularly did like the SmartMart friends. This author really apparently thinks about the entire cast of characters which is trait that is admirable in an author
This book was a light read. I found myself curious about the characters and interested in the story line. It would be something that I would recommend to my reluctant female readers who don't want anything deep or just really hate reading.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Lexi's adventure in shoplifting ends with a required summer job at the Smartmart she stole from, but her punishment might end up being the best thing that ever happened to her. A summer of unexpected friendships and possible romance is exactly what Lexi needs to see things more clearly. While this book offers an interesting complication to the summer romance, it was otherwise rather predictable. Readers who are looking for a YA contemporary romance will not be disappointed, nor will they be surprised. The romantic interest will appeal to most readers. The protagonist, on the other hand, comes across as spoiled and self centered. Lexi gains empathy for others during her time at Smartmart, but never really has the comeuppance growth I desired. The one minor character who is willing to call Lexi out for what she is disappears like smoke in the rush of the resolution (personally, I would rather have read the book from that girl's perspective than Lexi's). Ultimately it feels like Lexi got what Lexi wanted once again, at very little cost to herself. I was unclear what the ultimate message was, other than, "Hey, you need to be accepting of the working poor because they might actually be people, too!" Are my impoverished outsider roots showing? The language and situations are appropriate for grades nine and up.
Paper or Plastic is a cute and fun read. Alexis makes some pretty dumb mistakes, and she also learns that things aren’t always the way you thought they were. I adored the banter between Lex and Noah. It was believable and real. I do wish that Lex would have trusted her friends a little more with her feelings regarding Noah. I did like that both of Lex’s parents are present, even when they don’t always see eye to eye. And I loved Lex’s grandmother. Overall a fun read, and perfect for sitting outside and reading in the spring.
The summer before Alexis's Junior year in High School should have been fun: softball camp, lounging on the beach with friends, volleyball... Instead, she is spending her days working at ShopMart, forced to take a job there to avoid being arrested for shoplifting. Her first day of work starts out positively, with nice coworkers and a hot manager. Unfortunately, the hot manager turns out to be the same person who ratted out her best friend for vandalism two years ago, leaving Lex in the uncomfortable position of being attracted to "the enemy." With well-developed characters, a fun plot, just enough drama to make you feel frustrated on behalf of Lex and Noah, and a sweet romance, this book will make you laugh and sometimes even cry. No one is perfect, especially not teenagers, and it's great to see that the author is able to make the characters seem real. Lex is not your stereotypical teenage girl, being more interested in playing softball than cheerleading or attending pageants, and Noah has his own secrets under an uncertain demeanor. While the characters do have to deal with the standard high school cliques and bullying, they also have to deal with the added stress of sick relatives, abusive parents, and their own expectations. Even though this is romance, it's not your "love at first site and everything works out" type fantasy - the problems that they face are real and it makes the story even more enjoyable. A fun and quick read, this story will keep you clued to the pages hoping for the best! Five stars for a fun and believable plot, well-developed characters, and an overall enjoyable story. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I was initially attracted to this book because of the cover. It's a really cute cover and so I figured the book was gonna be just as cute. I was looking for something light and fun and this one seemed like the perfect fit. And it was. I really enjoyed this book, it was super fun and super cute. I really liked Alexis as a protagonist. She wasn't perfect but that made her more likable. She might come across a little condescending and entitled but she showed a great amount of growth as the book went on. She was actually a very compassionate and caring person. And I loved that she stood up for her friends and for herself. Although I wish she would have stood up to her mother more. I really did not like her mother. She was so stuck up and entitled and was constantly putting Alexis down because she was more into sports than her "looks". She's a pageant mom and is obsessed with Alexis' seven year old sister's "career". I cannot stand pageants, especially for little kids, so she really grated on my nerves. I would have told her off so many times if I was Alexis. The romance in the book was really sweet and progressed at a nice pace. There was no insta-love, and Noah and Alexis had great chemistry. Noah was so sweet and kind and was so nice to everyone. He's so loyal to his friends and family and my heart broke for him when I found out what he had to deal with. There was also a great host of secondary characters and I would actually love books about a few of them. There's some of them that I really want to know more about. A great story-line, full of excitement, laughter and romance, I wholly enjoyed this book. The perfect choice if you're looking for a quick, entertaining read.
What a great story - I really enjoyed it! Full of all the teenage peer pressure, problems with parents, trying to control hormonal reactions - this fantastic book has the lot! Lex is cajoled into shoplifting a lipstick by a "friend". It wasn't even in a shade she would ever use! Needless to say, she was caught and her Mum worked out her punishment with the store manager - Lex would work at the store for the summer, rather than have a criminal record. How she copes with her job, her desire to play softball and relationships form the backbone of this story. Her supervisor is Noah, he is hot and attends her school but he is also ostracised by her friends. How will Lex cope with her attraction to Noah, the job, her family and life in general now her summer plans are so changed? This is a well written, believable story with strong characters all trying to cope with life's problems in their own way. Thanks to the author, publishers and NetGalley, too, for letting me read a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.