Olsen, Nora. Frenemy of the People. Bold Strokes Books, 2014.
Clarissa has it all - a perfect family, plenty of money, supportive parents. Then her parents find themselves in a financial crisis, and Clarissa isn't sure what to do. Also, her sister, who has Downs Syndrome, wants to be crowned homecoming queen. Lexi has a rich but mostly absent mother who tries to buy her love. Clarissa is devastated when she has to stop taking riding lessons and her horse is sold, and Lexi is confused when her mom suddenly buys her a horse. Eventually Clarissa and Lexi work through their problems and fall in love. End scene.
I really wanted to like this book. I was glad for the inclusion of a bisexual character, especially since she didn't spend the entire book trying to decide if she was gay or straight. But the characters in this book were SO immature it drove me nuts. This seems like the kind of book I would recommend to a 3rd or 4th grader who wants to read "big kids' books." Clarissa has a fit because her parents sell her horse. Yes, really. And then she gets mad at Lexi when it turns out Lexi's mom bought Clarissa's horse, as if Lexi did that on purpose to hurt Clarissa. Being inside Clarissa's brain feels like watching an episode of Barney.
I love the idea of having a book with a bisexual character and a lesbian character that's about other issues instead of just their coming out, but this one was way too childish. The cover art is wonderful, but I wouldn't be able to convince my students, who are way past their horse obsessions now that they're in middle school, to pick up this book. And although I was interested in the information about mortgages and the financial crisis, I doubt that information would interest the audience for whom this book is intended.
Recommended for: tweens (maybe with different cover art to show that this book is really about a horse)
Red Flags: none
Overall Rating: 2.5/5 stars
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purposes of review.