Anna M reviews Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen


Frenemy of the People is a YA novel by Nora Olsen, who wrote the YA science fiction novel Swans & Klons (also on my to be read list).

Lexie, the daughter of two disinterested business executives, spends her time doing all she can to resist The Man. She’s a self-styled punk rock rebel–a vegan out lesbian and dumpster-diving, sheeple-loathing activist. She hates everything so much that she’s doing her best to get into a college that accepts kids who want to skip the end of high school.

Clarissa’s family exceeded its modest income by purchasing a luxurious house with a bad mortgage and compounding it with more ill-conceived debt. As a result, Clarissa’s seemingly idyllic life is now crumbling. Her beloved horse is sold without her knowledge and her sister with Down Syndrome is single-mindedly pursuing a campaign to be homecoming queen. She’s also had the sudden realization that she’s bisexual, which prompts her to found a gay-straight alliance at the high school.

The narration alternates between the two girls’ points of view. The reader is told by both Clarissa and Lexie that they dislike one another intensely, but their antipathy doesn’t really seem that strong, and it’s pretty easily overcome after they start working together on Desi’s campaign. Soon, Lexie and Clarissa find themselves developing feelings for one another. Lexie uses knowledge gained from her investment banker parents to advise Clarissa in the face of the bank’s imminent foreclosure on her family’s home, but (naturally) obstacles arise in the path of their romance.

On the whole, I enjoyed the story and was interested in seeing it through to the end. I appreciated that Desi seemed like a real, three-dimensional character rather than a handy plot accessory. The scenes where Clarissa was thinking about or interacting with her sister were among my favorite, along with those where the characters were allowed to air their quirks. I’m not sure the story was believable, but I didn’t end up caring too much. There was an oddly detailed amount of information about the mortgage crisis and foreclosures and so on, so much that it sometimes seemed to veer into nonfiction. If you like this type of YA setting, try Sister Mischief by Laura Goode.

2 Replies to “Anna M reviews Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen”

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