Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Her father's "bunny rabbit."
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.
No longer the kind of girl to take "no" for an answer.
Especially when "no" means she's excluded from her boyfriend's all-male secret society.
Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew's lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.
Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.
This is the story of how she got that way.
Review: I absolutely adored this book. I read it soon after reading the first two books in the Ruby Oliver series by the same author. But The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart is very different in tone and style to the other books I've read of hers. Frankie is a feisty main character who isn't particulary likeable in many ways, but really stands up for herself. She's crafty and intelligent and won't be a push-over. This is the ultimate feminist book for YA. I really haven't read a better literary YA book than this in a very long time, possibly ever.
What's very different about this book, is the layout. E Lockhart cuts and pastes different scenes from Frankie's life and intersperses her narrative with letters and diary entries, flash-back memories emails and articles. It almost reads like a manual, chronicling Frankie's transformation from Daddy's little 'bunny rabbit' into 'criminal mastermind.' And it's a very interesting journey from one to the other. Frankie Landau-Banks goes from a geeky, awkward and almost invisible girl at a boarding school into the girlfriend of one of the most popular boys at school. And during that time, she seen as 'less' to the other boys. Her opinions aren't important, she's only seen as Matthew's girlfriend and not as a person in her own right with opinions and thoughts that matter. Piecing together the other information, from the way her mother treats her different to that of a younger male cousin, to her ex-boyfriend cheating on her the previous year, we can see that these events change Frankie and are the impetus needed in order to overthrow this secret society.
Frankie Landau-Banks is pretty bad-ass. She sees the injustice around and the differential treatment she and other females in her school recieve and so she decides to stick up for herself and change the status quo. She doesn't have many friends and isn't particularly a friendly or very nice. In fact, she's pretty ruthless when it comes to getting what she wants but her tenacity is coupled with vulnerability as the reader is able to see how much she cares for Matthew and how much it hurts that he doesn't let her in or think very highly of her. While not always 'liking' Frankie, I was always, always rooting for her.
I love how E Lockhart addresses the problems of gender and time honoured institutions in this novel, and how she identifies the different power roles that boarding schools create. Frankie is level-headed, smart and feisty and she's more than capable of taking down the popular group of boys and running the school on her own. The story is interspersed with some really interesting concepts and articles, about a Suicide Club, the issue of a panoptican controlling people's behaviours, even the use of language and changing and creating words was fascinating. I adored this novel and Frankie Landau-Banks will forever rank highly on my list of favourite female characters.
This might be my favourite book that I've read all year. It has an interesting layout, characters and the complexity of the themes such as gender and power were written incredibly well. It features one of the most empowering female characters I've read in a long time. This is one definitely not to miss out on.