Published by Bold Strokes Books on 1 May 2014
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
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?