Acting the Part (Hardcover)
This delightfully tropey teen romance perfect for fans of Ashley Poston and Lyla Lee follows a queer teen actor navigating their gender identity—while pretending to date their co-star.
Queer actor Lily Ashton has found fame playing lesbian warrior Morgantha on the hit TV show Galaxy Spark. Lily knows how little representation queer girls have, so when the showrunners reveal that Morgantha’s on-screen love interest, Alietta, is going to be killed off, Lily orchestrates an elaborate fake-dating scheme with the standoffish actress who plays her, to generate press and ensure a happy ending for the #Morganetta ship.
But while playing a doting girlfriend on- and off-screen, Lily struggles with whether a word like “girl” applies to them at all.
Lily’s always been good at playing a part. But are they ready to share their real self, even if it means throwing everything they’ve fought for away?
Z. R. Ellor is an author and literary agent from the Washington, DC, area. An avid lifelong reader, he wrote his first novel when he was twelve years old and never put down his pen. He graduated from Cornell University in 2016 with a dual degree in biology and English literature. His nonliterary interests include running, travel, and global cuisine. May the Best Man Win was his debut novel. Visit him online at www.zrellorbooks.com.
"This queer coming-of-age story offers a high-appeal, fandom-inspired romantic subplot with a prickly, enemies-to-lovers dynamic involving an asexual love interest. The central conflict diverges from the path of a straightforward savior narrative, focusing instead on confronting privilege, setting healthy boundaries, and unlearning gendered expectations." — Kirkus Reviews
"Ellor adeptly centers [fictional sci-fi show] Galaxy Spark’s script and crew to address themes of homophobia, misogyny, and white privilege. An inviting tale of self-expression and discovery." — Publishers Weekly
"Acting the Part takes the fun of fake dating and fandom to tell a thoughtful, nuanced story about stories. Ellor asks—and answers—charged questions about who holds the power when writing queer characters and what it takes to flip the script." — Jasper Sanchez, author of The (Un)popular Vote
Praise for May the Best Man Win: "Ellor delivers an intense story about self-discovery, pain, and forgiveness. [A] nuanced conversation about the challenges that coming out as trans brings for the transgender person and the relationships they must navigate. Fans of Leah Johnson’s You Should See Me in a Crown (2020) won’t want to miss this thoughtful lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers high-school dramedy with a romantic core." — Booklist (starred review)
"Roaring, raging, and riotous, May the Best Man Win is a queer lovers-to-exes-to-enemies-to-lovers romance that will have you rooting for both Jeremy and Lucas to win homecoming king―and each other’s hearts." — The Nerd Daily
“Earnest, charming, and completely unafraid to dive headfirst into the beautifully messy complexity of grief, gender, and growth. May the Best Man Win won my heart completely.” — Becky Albertalli, New York Times–bestselling author of Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda
“…an utterly fresh romance with messy queer teens falling in and out of love, finding their community, and fighting to be seen. ZR Ellor’s debut puts him on the map as a new, exciting voice.” — Molly Knox Ostertag, author of The Witch Boy
"With effervescent writing and bold, stereotype-defying characters, ZR Ellor crafts a much-needed, nuanced depiction of both gender identity and neurodiversity. May the Best Man Win taught me a little about myself, and had me feeling the school spirit more than I ever did for my own high school!" — Jackson Bird, YouTuber and author of Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place