cover image Forest Hills Bootleg Society

Forest Hills Bootleg Society

Dave Baker and Nicole Goux. Atheneum, $21.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6948-8

When best friends Kelly Nahas, Brooke Imafidon, Maggie Hilcot, and Melissa Cho buy a bootleg anime DVD from a local Forest Hills, Calif., gas station, the teens are shocked by its contents. SuperLove XL, which features a giant mech that shoots lasers from its breasts, is the most suggestive thing they’ve ever seen, and they can’t stop watching. The girls decide to make more bootleg copies and sell them to the teen boys in their conservative Christian town, but as demand for salacious anime—and the pressure to remain discreet—grows, the operation may threaten their friendship. Collaborators Baker and Goux (Everyone Is Tulip) employ expertly layered paneling and muted blue hues to magnify emotional highs and lows. Paired with Baker and Goux’s snappy dialogue and expressive, visually varied characters, the group’s interpersonal challenges—including Brooke, Kelly, and Melissa’s love triangle, and Maggie’s struggles navigating loneliness—are deeply relatable and fully realized. While the creators delicately navigate heavy topics such as homophobia, mental health, and racism, this sincere graphic novel, set in 2005, is not without humor and hope. Kelly is of Saudi Arabian descent, Brooke is Black, Melissa is Asian, and Maggie is white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Charlie Olsen, InkWell Management. (Aug.)