Frenemy of the People by Nora Olsen ‘9?. We discover this story of complicated young love through the dueling voices of Clarissa, a popular and successful equestrian who has the sudden realization that she is bisexual, and Lexie, a self-styled misfit who despises high school and all its denizens “with the red-hot passion of a thousand suns.” Obviously, they are meant for each other. Throw into the mix the real estate bubble that threatens to render homeless Clarissa and her Down Syndrome sister, Desi, and you have a tightly wound plot fraught with real dangers. As with Maxine Wore Black, I am classifying this book as a novel though its target audience is teens. Adults like to laugh too.
Nov 23, 2019
Murder at the Columbarium by Emily Gallo ’67. This is the third novel of Emily’s I have read with Jonestown survivor Jed as the protagonist. Having found a way to go forward as caretaker for this facility for cremains, Jed has also maintained a network of friends and a committed partner, Monica. A character of great empathy, Jed found in the past that rocking crack babies calmed both the babies and himself as he struggled to keep his past from overwhelming him. Now he finds himself in the midst of a murder mystery. After coming upon the body of a young woman wearing a hijab on the grounds of the Columbarium, he is startled to also find with her a healthy baby. Clues lead to a pot farm, international drug traffic, and some harsh Pakistani customs. The plot is well-paced and keeps the reader guessing as the facts unfold. Malcolm, whom I first met in Venice Beach, comes back to play an important role, and Jed’s baby rocking skills come in handy. Though a brutal murder is at the center of the story, the book provides a heartfelt, humanizing look at those often marginalized by society: the trans, the HIV positive, the poor, and even the skinhead.