Two teens who have nothing in common work together at a record store in All Our Worst Ideas, a powerful and voice-driven YA novel from Vicky Skinner.
When Amy, on her way to becoming valedictorian of her graduating class and getting accepted to her dream school, gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend, she takes a job at a record store to ease the pain. She needs a distraction, badly.
Oliver, Amy’s record store co-worker, isn’t so sure about Amy—his complete opposite—but what he is sure of is his decision not to go to college. He just can’t figure out how to tell his mother.
As they work late-night shifts at the record store, Amy and Oliver become friends and then confidantes and then something more, but when Amy has a hard time letting go of what she thought was her perfect future with her ex, she risks losing the future she didn’t even know she wanted with Oliver.
We open the boxes one by one, removing record after record, some of them dusty and all of them in less-than-perfect shape. We try not to trip over each other, but occasionally, in all ourdancing around to get to our specific shelves, sorting the records first by genre and then alphabetically, my shoulder finds his breastbone or my elbow finds his rib cage.
“Sorry. I’m sorry,” I say for the tenth time.
His mouth is a straight line. “It’s fine. You don’t have to keep apologizing.”
“Right. Sorry.” I roll my eyes at myself and set another record on a shelf. I’m not sure why there’s no speaker system in the stockroom, but there’s no music back here, only the sounds ofour breathing and the soft hiss as cardboard covers slide against each other. We could open the door to hear the music in the shop, but for some reason, neither of us has.
I glance over at the box he’s sorting through. My box is filled mostly with traditional country western music and Broadway soundtracks, but he has a whole stack of dusty Beatles records in his hand.
When he reaches down into the box again, my eyes catch a glimpse of a tattoo on the inside of his arm. I can tell that it’s words, can make out the cursive script, but I can’t read what it says while he’s moving. I grab a handful of records and walk to his other side, pretending to look through the stack while trying to read the words on his arm, which is easy to be subtle aboutthanks to the sunglasses. He stops moving momentarily, and I finally get a good look. The things that we have right now are the best things that we’ve had yet.
“Is that ‘Molly’?”
Oliver’s head comes up, and he turns toward the door, his brow furrowed. “Who’s Molly?” heasks.
I point at his tattoo, hidden again by the sleeve of his shirt. “On your arm. That’s ‘Molly,’ isn’t it?”
His head turns toward me, and I feel like he’s probably looking at me, even though I can’t tell, and the longer he stands there like that, the more nervous I become, until I’m on the verge oftwitching. I was very clearly wrong about the tattoo. “I’m sorry. I must have read it wrong.”
“You know the Front Bottoms?”
I look up at him. He still wears that bewildered expression, and I’m almost not even sure he really asked the question.
But he waits. I shrug. I still have a stack of Brooks & Dunn albums in my hand. “Sure. I’m actually surprised you know it. ‘Molly’ was only on their first EP. I never hear anyone mention it.”
“It’s my favorite.” He says it almost like a question, and some- thing about the tone of his voice,the way it seems to make the entire rest of him soften, makes me smile.
“Mine, too. I mean, it would be great if their band wasn’t named after the female genitalia, but, you know, what are ya gonna do, right?”
He’s still staring at me, and I know for sure this time, because he’s reached up and pushed his sunglasses onto his head, and then the door opens and Brooke sticks her head in.
“Amy, could you help me up front?”
I step around Oliver to get to Brooke, and just before I close the door, I shoot a look over my shoulder at Oliver, who’s still standing in the middle of the room, looking at me like I’m a completely different species.
Vicky Skinner was born and raised in Texas, where she started writing novels about kissing cute boys when she was fifteen and eventually earned a BA in Literary Studies from The University of Texas at Dallas. She’s a full-time writer, a part-time runner, and she currently lives in Dallas with her husband.