Book Review: Trinkets by Kirsten Smith
Don’t get caught is their mantra, but when they do, Tabitha, Elodie and Moe find out that these three girls who seem to have nothing in common have more in common then they could ever have imagined.
In kind of a cross between The Breakfast Club (where we see different social groups come together because they did something wrong) and The Fault in Our Stars (the Shoplifter Anonymous scenes reminded me of the cancer support group in TFiOS), 3 girls wind up spending time sitting in a basement for Shoplifters Anonymous, where they are asked to bare their souls and work through their issues. Told in alternating points of view, we have the popular girl, the bad girl, and the new girl.
Tabitha is the queen bee with the super hunky boyfriend. She could be a stereotype, but her observations about the people around her show depth and insight. Smith is best at developing and conveying the stark emptiness found inside Tabitha. I loved that she seemed like one thing but the voice in her head was something completely different.
Elodie is the yearbook photographer and new girl, in the area around 4 months. Elodie’s part of the story is told in verse, which sometimes worked for me and sometimes seemed unnecessary. There is this scene where Elodie goes to a party and compares new friendship to that of a life long tree, and it is in moments like these that Smith really captures the essence of being a teen.
Moe is a good girl gone bad who is secretly dating the boy across the street who won’t publicly acknowledge her. Her story more than any really broke my heart. Side note: If your boyfriend won’t acknowledge you in public, he doesn’t deserve you. But the relationship will surprise you.
This is a quick read, clocking in at 288 pages with a fast, breezy pace. Your teens looking for a fast read with contemporary themes will definitely find what they are looking for in Trinkets. Smith manages to dig beneath the surface just enough to go beyond broad stereotypes and develop some meaningful dialogue and relationships while providing enough snark and wit for modern day readers. There were a few pop culture toss outs that had me worried teens wouldn’t connect: Do they know who Winona Ryder is and about her shoplifting habit? I’m not sure. Kirsten Smith is the co-writer of the movies like Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You, and you can see traces of the combination of pop culture fluff (and humor) laced with enough moments of depth to keep your brain engaged as well as your heart. That heart and meat come in when you start to learn more about why, exactly, each girl has engaged in a life of crime. Some interesting facts about shoplifting were included without the book becoming overly preachy or didactic. Bonus points because there are not a lot of books on this topic even though apparently 10% of the population shoplifts – I learned this in the book! For additional titles, see Klepto by Jenny Pollack and Taking It by Michael Cadnum.
Trinkets by Kirsten Smith was released in March of 2013 by Little, Brown. ISBN: 9780316160278. It has an average rating of 3.57 stars on Goodreads. Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review saying, “The plot lines converge a bit too neatly, but it’s a small flaw in this funny, smart, and perceptive book.” I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars for its engaging look at the life of 3 teens girls that every reader will know, its engaging dialogue, and its use of snark, wit and humor to talk about heavy life issues.
Other books that involve some or all of the story being told in verse:
Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (which I think doesn’t get as much love as it deserves)
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
The works of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones . . .
A list of 55 Books Written in Verse on Goodreads
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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