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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Paper or Plastic is both a fun, light-hearted read and something deeper that will stick with me in the coming weeks.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: Paper or Plastic
Author: Vivi Barnes
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
About the Author
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.
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