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Review for Paper Or Plastic by Vivi Barnes

Paper or Plastic - Vivi Barnes

This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews


Lex Dubois has been busted. After an ill-fated attempt to steal a tube of lipstick from her local SmartMart. Instead of calling the police, the manager offers her a different deal, a job. She’s forced by her mom to take it and is now working in a store that she has long-since mocked. The customers and weird employees are bad enough, but then she learns the cute manager is actually her best friend’s rival and things escalate quickly. Noah Grayson is the reason Bryce (her bestie) lost a year of play on their high school baseball team. She should hate him on principle. But the more time she spends with him, the more she is drawn to him. He’s sweet and cute and geeky in the best way. Soon, she’ll have to choose between the friends she values and her attraction to Noah and when that happens, one thing is for sure, it’ won’t be pretty or easy.


I was initially irritated with Lex. Here is a girl with a well off family, a decent group of friends, a drive to succeed in a sport that few woman do, and a level head on her shoulders. Why she would feel the need to steal something just because a friend suggested they see if they can get away with it. Of course she got caught. We was probably glancing around and fidgeting like crazy lady. Her reaction to living there and to her home life in general is what won me over. She isn’t what you’d expect. And working in retail is HARD. For anyone out there who has never done it, take it from someone with experience. It’s frustrating and never-ending. People are just as bad, if not worse, than depicted here. At least the grocery store didn’t have an extensive toy aisle for “responsible” adults to leave their children to play in while they shopped. Lex handles that stress pretty well considering she isn’t used to working at all. She even manages to hold onto her temper when customers are being particularly irritating, which is an admirable feat. The more you learn about her refusal to conform to her mother’s idea of perfect, the more I started to love her. Here is a girl that’s beautiful and could easily dress well and get the world to do her bidding. Instead, she wears jeans and cutoffs and wants to spend all day sweating in a field throwing balls at people. How could I not lover her? My only issue with her was the way she handles the Noah thing. Yes, I know this is not going to end well either way. Yes, I know that Bryce is going to be pissed as hell, but guess what? If you don’t tell him, he’ll be even more pissed and hurt when he finds out through other means. I realize she’s a teenager, but that particular trait runs through all fiction and it irritates me regardless of the age of the protagonist.


Noah, on the other hand, I loved immediately. He’s sweet and nerdy and utterly devoted to his friends and family. Add to that the killer smile and his wit and I was swooning less than halfway through the novel. The more you learn of him, the more I fell in love. He’s that boy who works so hard to take care of everyone around him and never complains about it. He has two jobs and no real personal life to speak of because there are people depending upon him. I’ll be honest and admit that I kinda expected Belle to turn out to be his kid instead of his sister and I was refreshed to learn that I was wrong. I felt like Noah was too good of a guy for that and it made me smile to learn that I was correct in that assumption.


I’m on the fence about most of the other characters. The staff of SmartMart all seem like an interesting bunch, but I didn’t love them like Lex did. The same can be said of Lex’s friends. What kind of friend pushes you into shoplifting? Lex’s mom was especially crazy to me. The way that woman not only bosses everyone around, but gets away with it astounds me. The way Lex’s dad allows it to happen astounds me even more. I get that you love this Toddlers in tiara’s dreamland you’ve created for your youngest daughter, but there are other, somewhat more important, things in life than making sure you’re six year old looks as adorable as possible. I think she was a well-written character, but she irked me to no end.


This book was a little slow to start. It took me a decent bit to really get into it. It starts off rocky, with me not particularly liking any of the characters and therefore having a hard time connecting with them. Once we get past that, I was hooked. I ended up finishing this late last Saturday night, literally shooing my husband away every time he entered the bedroom for anything. GO AWAY, I’M READING! Once you really start to see Lex’s full personality, not just the one-dimension-ed idiot who gets caught pocketing cosmetics, I couldn’t get enough. Suddenly, I could feel her pain and frustration. That scene in SmartMart, with all the water on the floor, I was tearing up with her as she tried to clean the mess.


If you are looking for an endearing contemporary YA, then look no further than this. It’s sweet with a lot of heart, a bit of humor, and an adorable cover. What more could you want?


****Thank you to Entangled Teen, Vivi Barnes, and YA Bound Book Tours for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review****