Sunday, October 26, 2008

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Author: E. Lockhart
Genre: YA
Published: 2008
Pages: 342
Rating: 9 / 10
Challenges: N/A
Awards: None (yet!), but it is a National Book Award Finalist

Synopsis (from the inside cover):
"Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
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.

Frankie Landau-Banks.
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."

My Review: This was an excellent book! I loved the character of Frankie. She's smart, sassy, incredibly clever; she also tends to make up new words:
"Mmmm," she whispered. "Now I'm gruntled."
"Gruntled. I was disgruntled before."
"It's drizzling, there's nothing to do but study, the vending machine's broken. You know, disgruntled."
"And now, you're..."
She had expected Matthew's face to light at the new word, but he touched her chin lightly and said, "I don't think that word means what you think it means."
"What?" Frankie didn't think it was a word. She thought it was - she thought it was what she'd later call a "neglected positive."
It was nice to read about a character who enjoys playing with the English language as much as I do, and this wordplay factors heavily into the story. Of course, not everyone appreciates this wit. From the same scene:
What annoyed her now was not that Matthew was right - but that he wouldn't just enjoy the made-up word. That he needed to be right. And that he'd chucked her - actually chucked her under the chin, like you do to a dog, when informing her that, essentially, her cleverness with gruntled had been completely trumped by his stellar memory for obscure bits of the dictionary.
Poor Frankie is really under-appreciated. All she wants is to be taken seriously, not just by her boyfriend and his friends, but by her family as well. The action of the story - the way Frankie infiltrates the boys' secret society, gets them to do her bidding, and deals with the consequences - is amusing, but not as great as Frankie herself. I loved watching her strategize and stand up for herself - I'm torn between wanting to be her best friend (if she'd have me) and wanting to be her.

Other Reviews:
bookshelves of doom

If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.


Nymeth said...

Yet another book that I need to get my hands on! I really enjoy that kind of wordplay, so this sounds like something I'd love.

Book Zombie (Joanne) said...

This sounds great, I love reading a book where the main female character has a "take no crap" type of personality and Frankie sure sounds like that.
Thanks for the cool review :)

Fyrefly said...

Oh, this sounds great, plus I'm generally a sucker for boarding-school books. (That's so random, but it's true.) Off to my wishlist!

Michele said...

I read this and loved it. One of my first forays into YA.

jessi said...

Nymeth - This is the third book in a row that I read that played around with language (the others being Enthusiasm and Ella Minnow Pea, which I have yet to review) and I really like it, too. Probably a result of getting my B.A. in English.

Joanne - Thanks! Frankie is definitely a great character.

Fyrefly - As a product of U.S. public schools, I'm a sucker for books set in boarding schools, too. :)

Michele - I'm glad you enjoyed it, too!

Dreamybee said...

Aaaahhh! My TBR list just keeps growing and growing and growing...thanks to reviews like these! This one sounds like fun!