cover image The No-Girlfriend Rule

The No-Girlfriend Rule

Christen Randall. Atheneum, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-6659-3981-2

Looking for a way to get closer to her boyfriend Chris, 17-year-old Hollis Beckwith—who is fat and has anxiety—tries joining his friends’ campaign of the tabletop role-playing game Secrets & Sorcery. But Chris’s group has a “no girlfriends at the table” rule, and Hollis’s one attempt to join another campaign proves uncomfortable. Then she finds a girl-friendly, queer-inclusive crowd comprising out and proud Aini and transgender Iffy. Despite Hollis’s initial reservations, she soon nurtures previously untapped confidence among their ranks. As Hollis comes into her own and flirts with Aini via their in-game alter egos, she also reckons with the cracks in her and Chris’s relationship and must decide what she wants out of life and love. In this dazzling debut, Randall navigates serious topics such as mental health and toxic masculinity alongside joyful themes surrounding self-realization and cultivating genuine camaraderie and affirming safe spaces. A fully realized cast helps to flesh out Hollis and Aini’s developing connection and their individual quests for happiness against a lived-in-feeling gaming backdrop. Hollis and Chris are white, Aini is of South Asian heritage, and Iffy is Black. Ages 14–up. Agent: Becca Langton, Darley Anderson Literary. (Mar)