Style Book Club: ‘Trinkets’

’Trinkets’ by Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith.
Photo: Courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Is it summer already? Because it should be, right? While the official first day of summer isn’t until June 21, we’re already planning potential vacays and compiling our beach reading list—even if “beach” translates to an inflatable kiddie pool or wearing our swimsuits to the park. Reading a super fun page-turner is the perfect way to pass the time, especially when it involves three girls, each with their own discernible style, who also happen to share an affinity for kleptomania. Written by Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, Trinkets has already received stellar reviews, but it also gets major bonus points for having a cover conceived and designed by teens. Also, it grabs you from the very first page, which is no wonder given Smith’s Hollywood cred. She’s the screenwriter responsible for 10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde, She’s the Man, and The House Bunny. And not only does the book read like a movie, it’ll have you wanting to change up your summer style too.

Set in cool (literally and figuratively) Portland, Oregon, Trinkets follows teens Elodie, Tabitha, and Moe, who couldn’t be more different. Elodie’s the new girl in town, and though she comes across as a shy wallflower, her penchant for pilfering eventually lands her in Shoplifter’s Anonymous. While there, she meets Tabitha, the prettiest and most popular girl in school (with the boyfriend to match) who also has a secret stealing habit, and Moe, a pseudo-goth bad girl with an intimidating reputation. Imagine, if you will, Angela from My So-Called Life, Regina George from Mean Girls, and Juno with a makeover from The Craft all being forced to hang out together in a court-mandated weekly program, and you’ll have these girls visually figured out. Their individual stories, however, and how they weave together are what make Trinkets YA literary treasure.

Each chapter is devoted to a character talking about her predicament. Elodie (who speaks in verse!) steals things as a reaction to her mother’s death and her father’s new marriage while Tabitha’s stealing also stems from family problems. Moe, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery. Each girl’s story unravels as they challenge each other to a steal-off. Though they never hang out at school, an interesting bond begins to form through Shoplifters Anonymous as they question the escalation of their stealing habits as well as the meaning of friendship. Oh, and there’s romance, too, which is always the barometer for the greatest of beach reads.

Though Trinkets has received comparisons to the seminal 1980’s teen movie The Breakfast Club—mainly through three classmates who wouldn’t normally hang out being thrown together—this is much different territory. Smith amps up the stereotypes of her characters (and, really, all of us were a “type” in high school) and infuses her novel with style. Aside from fashion blogger shout outs and designer labels being the target of a few steals, the book’s world is one we’re all familiar with in a realistic way. Not that they’re in any way similar, but it feels like the opposite of The Bling Ring, which dramatizes the effects of kleptomania as seen through the eyes of teens who are difficult to relate to. Most of us know the characters in Trinkets or find we share similarities with all three.

“Tabitha’s a clothes horse,” Smith says. “She’s bold, flashy, a little naughty at times, and she labels everything in her life.” Elodie, on the other hand, “has that classic good girl vibe, like an angelic boho thing that’s innocent and vulnerable,” but Moe is a classic tomboy with a twist, Smith says. “I picture her being more unisex in terms of how she looks. She’s a little more tough and always wears a pair of boots like Doc Martens and maybe a leather jacket from a thrift store or stolen from her brother.”

Smith looked to actual teens for inspiration too. The cover was the result of a collaboration with 18-year-old photographer/Rookie collaborator Petra Collins and illustrator Kelly Abeln. All three worked together on imagery conceived from mood boards depicting various groups of teen trios fixing their makeup and hanging out together. The finished cover has a security camera surveillance feel with three girls looking as though they know their every move is being watched. It reminded me of those times in high school where you found yourself bored and drifting through the same suburban mall hoping something interesting would happen. Not that resorting to stealing is the answer, but Trinkets deals with those moments in life that seem impulsive or have led to feelings of regret. It’s all a learning process often made easier with the support of friends.

A mood board inspired by the ’Trinkets’ novel.
Photo: Courtesy of Kelly Abeln

Even though the book has only been out for a few months, it’s already getting the fashion blog fan treatment. Indonesian blogger The Creme de La Crop put together an impressive homage to the characters. And also both HelloGiggles and Rookie magazine published an excerpt from the novel. We couldn’t help but fuel the love too. Trinkets is a humorous, familiar, heartfelt, and fun read that makes you feel like you’re part of a girl gang—however magical, flawed, and fleeting that can often be.

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