Friday, May 23, 2008

The Disreputable History of Franki Landau-Banks

There's a lot going on in Frankie's world. She has suddenly gone from being a skinny girl with frizzy hair to being the sort of girl who turns boys' heads. She's trying to keep up with her school work and debate club at the prestigious and exclusive Alabaster Academy. Her sister has moved on to college, and her father is busy networking with the "old boys" from his days at Alabaster. Her boyfriend is a senior on whom she has crushed for a long time.

So of course, following him around takes precedence over everything else.

Michael is involved in the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, a secret society her father had joined during his youth. Membership is, of course, limited to boys, but she follows the group and overhears some of their plans. She locates their "sacred text", The Disreputable History, and finds that while the group pulled a lot of pranks in the past, it has now devolved into a social/drinking organization. Determined to be a member despite her gender, she embarks on planning a serious of wildly elaborate pranks, e mailing directions to the members while pretending to be the president, Alpha.

The pranks are a success-- but Frankie starts to realize that while the Bassets enjoy the pranks, their main reason for being in the group is to bond with each other, and while she might be able to arrange the pranks, the patriarchal quality of the group will insure that she will never actually be a part of it. Frankie briefly owns some "girl power", but the important thing is that she realizes the disparities and starts to act on them. She has a lot of promise at the end of the book.

While this is written in an odd sort of voice (omniscient but oddly immediate narrator occasionally lapses into present tense), it has the distinction of being the only book I've read to successfully include e mail messages as part of the story. There are also some facets of Frankie's personality that are not adequately explained or developed, but perhaps that is because Frankie hasn't quite figured herself out yet. A slight drag in the middle of the book, before Frankie started the pranks, could be attributed to my extreme fatigue last night. I'll check with my daughter after she reads it.

Ultimately, I loved Frankie. She was intelligent, brash, eloquent, and inventive. She thought about her place in the universe, and when she was unhappy with it, attempted to change it. She makes the whole book smart. Well, that and the use of the word schadenfreude.

I didn't care much for Lockhart's other books, but can't remember why. Tempted to go back and read them again.

For an in-depth discussion of this book, check out:

For E. Lockhart's blog, check out:

1 comment:

  1. I loved The Boyfriend List : (15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs, and Me, Ruby by E. Lockhart.

    I listened to it on CD, so the voice really came through. You might try that version.

    Thanks for this good review. You're helping me create my summer order once again :)