The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks has been on my to read-list for a long, long time. Finally, I thought of ordering it a few weeks ago. And, hm, okay, I didn’t realize at first that it was written by E. Lockhart (author of We were liars was a really unsettling/amazing/confusing book, I’ll talk to you about it at some point, I promise!). As soon as I woke up and found this out, I was even more excited to read it. There are so many good feedbacks about this…well, now here’s mine!
I have to talk about the plot, for starters : boarding school, secret societies…there’s a reason why I wanted to read that book for so long. These are subjects that I find fascinating -especially the part on secret societies, to be honest-, and the unfolding of the events in the book didn’t disappoint me on that point. I found the mystery a little bit long to come, however, maybe it’s because I am an impatient. The story builds-up on the characters relationships, and this is one of my main appreciation about this book : even though we don’t over-analyse their feelings, we can see their evolution clearly, through the witty conversations. I have to say, on that point, this book, and the author, is really good : she manages to squeeze in smart conversations about deep subjects (I’ll come to that right after) in an everyday situation. In the middle of what you may think of as a light reading, you come to realize this book is way, more than that.
What I really enjoyed in The Disreputable History, was Frankie’s character. She’s at the opposite of what people can say of teenagers in YA books, and she really shows that YA characters can be really interesting. She was given her father’s name, and somehow she turns it all around : she doesn’t stay in the expected role of a woman. She’s a very strong main character, who stands up for herself, and definitely illustrates feminism. She doesn’t want to be left out of the “club” : sure, this seems like a childish whining girl situation. Don’t let it fool yourself : Frankie takes things into her hands, she stands up alone in front of an all-boys-club, and she shows that she can take care of things as much as boys can. She shapes herself in this whole story. Her whole journey, from being her family’s “Bunny Rabbit”, to being, well, Frankie, is great to follow. Moreover, this book shows a character that doesn’t lose herself in love : she keeps her personnality, her whole being. A few passages are really good about that : “Don’t let him erase you”. “Don’t worry, I’m indelible.” However, I have to say I was a little bit disappointed by the ending. Looking at it a day after, I have to say, though, it was a realistic ending, and exactly what this book needed.
The voice of the author, as it was in We were liars, is definitely unique. We feel like we’re hearing a story, and that’s really distracting, as much as it is confusing, at first. That’s what gives an impact on this story, I think. This is a narration which is looking back after the events, a whole construction built on explanations from the author, directly adressing us, explaining us how and why the events will unfold the way they do. As off-setting as it might seem, it brings out a sense of reality into these events. And that’s what makes it so great.
E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, published by Disney Hyperion, August 25th 2009.
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.