Kristen Smith is a successful screen writer, whose credits include She’s The Man, 10 Things I Hate About You and Legally Blonde. Trinkets is her first novel, which I came to hear about through this excerpt on the brilliant Rookie website.
The basic plot for Trinkets is: three teenage girls, from vastly different backgrounds and social spheres, meet at Shoplifters Anonymous. We have Tabitha (popular, high school princess with jock boyfriend), Moe (social outcast, misfit with boy who won’t acknowledge her in public) and Elodie (wallflower, poet, new girl). An unlikely bond forms and the girls begin to challenge each other as thieves and to shake up what’s wrong in their lives.
Trinkets was an unequivocally easy, light-hearted read; I started and finished it in one train ride. Being YA, it is squarely aimed at teenagers, but as I still have a great amount of affection and nostalgia for my teen years, I didn’t find this off-putting. Smith clearly has an ear for teen-speak, capturing the right inflections and colloquialisms. We hear from each girl in turn, getting a sense of their individuality and narrative voice. Tabitha and Moe write in prose, whereas Elodie writes in poems. This device feels a little affected and pretentious, but then again, teen girls (especially those who aspire to be poets) tend to be a little affected and pretentious when it comes to writing.
The problems the girls are dealing with at home (love, divorce, grief) are realistically conveyed and the reasons behind their choices to act out, either through shoplifting or other means, are thoughtful and understandable. Smith evokes the rush that must come from stealing effectively and you feel the adrenaline and the joy our protagonists get from doing the unexpected. Their cross-social-borders friendship allows them all to explore who they are and who they actually want to be, encouraging each other to fix what they don’t like about their lives. Smith has written an empowering tale of friendship, as our central trio are allowed to grow and learn from each other. They support one another and give each other the courage to do what they need to. This postive message ‘you can find your people and you’re not alone or wrong in feeling awkward and outsider-y’ is a great one to give to teenage girls, if a little neat for me. I found the resolutions to their shoplifting and other problems a little too easy and tidy and would have preferred a little more exploration of how they were going to navigate life now as a trio, but overall it was a sweet book and enjoyable read.