The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
A so-so cover that only has appeal after you’ve started reading the book and ‘get it.’
A so-so title.
And one of the top ten teen books of 2009.
How did that happen?
It’s a great read.
Frankie is a sophomore at a very exclusive private high school, Alabaster Preparatory Academy. She has the makings of the ‘ugly ducking turned swan’ cliché. But she’s also very brainy and wants to be taken seriously. (Her family calls her Bunny Rabbit.) When she meets the hottest senior guy on campus and he starts dating her, she is the envy of other girls on campus. This could be all they’d want. Not Frankie.
The guys in her boyfriend’s group belong to an all-male secret society called the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Frankie isn’t supposed to know anything about it, but she’s too smart and inquisitive—devious–not to figure out what’s going on. The Bassets are goofy and they mostly pull really dumb pranks—and most of these go unnoticed. Frankie is excluded because she’s a girl. She wants to belong—these guys she hangs out could also be clichés about the snobby, privileged guys who will go to Harvard and Princeton and run the rest of our lives some day. But they, too, are smart and likeable. We want Frankie to break the barrier and be part of their group. When she secretly infiltrates the Bassets and masterminds some great pranks, we think these guys will have to love her. But they don’t actually have to do anything.
“It is better to be alone . . . than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.” The Disreputable History takes on not only boy/girl relationships, but class and privilege (the ‘old boys club’)—and, as a bonus, has a lot of fun with words and language. Frankie is an oddball girl with a quirky imagination. If you are tired of stories (real or fiction) with girls erasing themselves for boys, you’ll identify with her.