cover image The Frenemy Zone

The Frenemy Zone

Yolanda Wallace. Bold Strokes, $13.95 paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-63679-249-1

High school senior Olly Smith-Nakamura isn’t thrilled when her grandfather’s death prompts her fathers to uproot their family, moving from the Bay Area to Frog Wallow, W.Va., to take over the family business. As an openly lesbian wrestler with one Black and one Japanese American father, she contends with casual racism and homophobia in the mostly white, conservative town. Her goal is to survive until graduation and move on without attachments; that is, until she meets white-cued Ariel Hall, the mayor’s closeted lesbian daughter. Constantly worried about her image because of her PR-focused mom, Ariel battles feelings of loneliness, especially when her best friend rejects her romantic advances. Though Olly and Ariel initially butt heads, their animosity eventually thaws into tentative friendship. But if either of them hopes for more, they must shed their preconceived notions about each other, the people around them, and their futures. Emphatic writing by Wallace (Heart of a Killer, for adults) capably builds tension; the characters’ intensely felt hopes and fears, and their struggles navigating interpersonal and external obstacles, make for a pensive read. A subplot involving sexual violence is sensitively explored. Ages 13–up. (Nov.)