Review: Frenemy of the People – Nora Olsen

Posted 15 April, 2014 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 18 Comments

Review: Frenemy of the People – Nora OlsenFrenemy of the People by Nora Olsen
Published by Bold Strokes Books on 1 May 2014
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Pages: 264
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

4 Stars

Clarissa and Lexie couldn’t be more different. Clarissa is a chirpy, optimistic do-gooder and a top rider on the school’s equestrian team. Lexie is an angry, punk rock activist and the only out lesbian at their school.

When Clarissa declares she’s bi and starts a Gay-Straight Alliance, she unwittingly presses all of Lexie’s buttons, so Lexie makes it her job to cut Clarissa down to size. But Lexie goes too far and finds herself an unwitting participant in Clarissa’s latest crusade. Both are surprised to find their mutual loathing turning to love.

A change in her family’s fortunes begins to unravel Clarissa’s seemingly perfect life, and the girls’ fledgling love is put to the test. Clarissa and Lexie each have what the other needs to save their relationship and the people they love from forces that could tear them all apart.

*I received a free ARC of Frenemy of the People from Bold Strokes Books, Inc via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

Frenemy of the People is a really interesting and tender story, both because of the LGBT angle but also because the two main characters are both well done, fleshed out and manage to see behind the façade they are both keeping up. I also enjoyed that Clarissa’s sister has Downs syndrome, because it was a way to tell a beautiful story, and also to show at the same time how hurt people can be from words others throw around without really thinking about what they are saying. And especially Lexie is always willing to educate herself, and she is not afraid to say she is sorry when she realizes she was wrong about something.

Lexie seems very sure of herself, strong-minded, blue hair, and pushing everyone away from her. She carries her title as Frenemy of the People with pride, even if she isn’t always completely aware of how she seems to others – mainly because she just doesn’t care. She is well-read, wants justice, and is very fair in the way she deals with people, when she deals with them at all. Having known for a while that she’s lesbian, she is not afraid to be out of the closet, even if it hasn’t exactly helped her get any new friends after her ex, Ramona, graduated high school and left her behind.

Clarissa is in many ways opposite of Lexie, at least she appears to be at the beginning of Frenemy of the People. A preppy, happy girl, mostly occupied with her equestrian club, and helping her older sister navigate new things, she is strong, sure of herself and has many friends. Until that one day when she realizes she is bi-sexual, and she blurts it out to her friends without thinking. Then, leaving the equestrian club, she feels a little isolated for a while. Until she asks Lexie to help her get Desi, Clarissa’s sister, the crown for Homecoming Queen. Reluctant in the beginning, both Clarissa and Lexie think they have nothing in common, and there might not be much more than they think. However, having someone to share things with becomes very important to both of them.

When Clarissa’s house is foreclosed, Lexie is the one to help her read through bank statements, contracts, and ever-changing mortgage rates. She knows her thing, especially after she went to occupy Wall Street. It also helps that both of her parents work in banks, and Lexie is willing to go very far to make sure she makes up for what she sees as the evil her parents have done to the world. As they get to know each other better, Lexie and Clarissa fall in love, but nothing is easy for them. They both have trouble trusting the other, and Desi becomes the one person who makes both of them think things through when the going gets rough.

Frenemy of the People is very well written, and I got to know both Lexie and Clarissa well, I also think the secondary characters, Desi, Rob, and actually, even the parents were well fleshed out. While Clarissa and Desi’s parents are much more present than Lexie’s, it was refreshing to read a young adult story where the parents are there, take part in their children’s life, and are able to guide them when they need help. I was most surprised by Lexie’s father, because he got them out of a bad spot when they did something pretty stupid – but understandable – towards the end of the story.

Written form dual points of view, the story delves into both of the protagonists thoughts with gusto. The love story in Frenemy of the People is very tentative, sweet and moving slowly. The fact that Lexie and Clarissa really did go from not knowing each other at all, to frenemies, to friends to girlfriends was very well done. Nothing in their relationship felt forced, and I enjoyed ever turn the story took. If you are participating in LGBT April, you should make sure you get Frenemy of the People as soon as it comes out, and if you aren’t participating, you should still pick it up, because the diversity is on more than one level in this story.

Maybe I’m bi, I said, not willing to concede the point. Then, just like that, I realized – Duh! I am so totally bi. Sometimes I get realizations all of a sudden.

I know how that makes me sound, but if you knew these people, you would despise them also. Don’t worry, I’m not a bring-a-gun-to-school type. i just hate silently.

My relationship with my father was always a little more tenuous. i never knew where I was with him. My mom, I got her totally figured out. Love her or hate her, she was very consistent. My dad mystified me.

I was having a hard time believing the word retarded was offensive. But Clarissa had been offended. And that wasn’t exactly how I had meant to get back at her, by insulting her sister.

How could you ever really understand another person? Two weeks ago I had hated Clarissa Kirchendorfer. now she seemed like the brightest star in the galaxy. how was it possible to be so wrong about someone?

Lexxie signature (un)Conventional Bookviews

 

 

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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18 responses to “Review: Frenemy of the People – Nora Olsen

  1. I’m looking forward to reading this – it’s one of the books on my list for this month! I’m happy to see you enjoyed it. I must admit the girl on the cover caught my eye when I was perusing Netgalley – you know I love blue hair! 😉

    I was a bit nervous when I found out this same author wrote the book, Swans & Klons, which had some really negative reviews involving use of offensive language. Like offensive in a very negative way towards the LGBT community. But this book sounds much different since it’s a contemporary. Swans & Klons was more fantasy/sci-fi.

    I like this book is written in dual POV. It helps me get to know both characters better, and it sounds like both characters are cool ones to know. Great review, Lexxie! 🙂

    Jennifer @ Donnie Darko Girl recently posted: Book Trailer Reveal for Losing Logan by Sherry D. Ficklin!
    • Yeah, the hair color definitely makes the cover even more attractive 🙂 I haven’t read Swans & Klons, and I’m not familiar with it, so I had no idea about offensive language. I think that sometimes, though, in stories, to show how despicable a character is, a way to show that is by having that character use offensive language…

      I hope you’ll enjoy the frenemies as much as I did, Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I’m not participating in LGBT April, but I’ll definitely go check out this book! Thanks for the great review, Lexxie, I’m happy you enjoyed this one so much and, I must say, I always appreciate a book written in dual POV 🙂

    Silvia @ Darkest Sins recently posted: Teaser Tuesday (#34)
    • Silvia, it’s really a great story, and I think one of the things I enjoyed is that the characters aren’t straight, but that’s not at all the main focus.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. It sounds like a deep and satisfying read, Lex. That the MCs and even side characters are so well fleshed out really appeals to me. 🙂 I’m happy that these two girls seem to be comfortable with who they are and could become friends. And I like that the author wove in Downs Syndrome well. I think I’ll be one-clicking this one. 😉

    I hope you’re having a wonderful day!! **big hugs**

    • *whispers: yes, one click it the day it is published!!*

      The story is really good, and I enjoyed that the characters’ sexuality isn’t the main focus, it’s just part of who they are.

      Thanks for stopping by, my dear. *BIG HUGS*

  4. Sounds wonderful & how cool is it that you share a name with one of the characters?!

    Yeah labels like retard are offensive. Some people can be so cruel sometimes you wonder what happened to them to make them so.

    • Yeah, that is pretty cool 🙂 I agree with you, Braine, that labels like that are offensive, but I thought the way it was dealt with in this story was really good. I think a lot of things people thought were OK to say not so very long ago are quite offensive, but not everybody is aware how cruel it can be.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. I haven’t heard of Frenemy of the People yet, but it looks wonderful. Dual point of view is my favorite story telling method, and this one looks very character driven. I am also a sucker for the opposites attract trope. I like that you not only get to know Clarissa and Lexie but some of the secondary characters too. This one seems like something I would enjoy.

    Thanks for sharing it with me. Great Review Lexxie 🙂

    Question- I noticed you link to Booklikes. How do you like it? I created an account there a while back, but I never really got into it.

    • It’s an awesome story, Michelle, and I’m so happy I signed up for LGBTApril, because I went consciously hunting for books with LGBT characters.

      I enjoy Booklikes quite a lot, but I don’t have a lot of time to hang out there. And Goodreads still has the best book database for cataloging everything I want to read… Have you tried Leafmarks?

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. wow lots of interesting and difficult subjects in this story but props for the author for weaving a great book! with memorable characters

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