Author: E. Lockhart
Published: March 25, 2008
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
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“She will not be simple and sweet.My Thoughts
She will not be what people tell her she should be.”
― E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
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. (Goodreads)
Why Frankie Landau-Banks is a kickass heroine:
-She takes everyone by surprise with her genius machinations
-Frankie is super sneaky
-She never takes no for an answer
-Her schemes are trying to communicate a deeper message
-She is all about female empowerment
-She's a vegetarian
As the title suggests, Frankie Landau-Banks is the star of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and boy, did she shine! I adored Frankie. Her epic name, her sharp tongue, her endless wit! Everyone underestimates her! Her boyfriend, her friends, and even her family see her as just this sweet, innocent girl, their little "Bunny Rabbit" whose job is just to sit there and look pretty. But then Frankie completely defies all of their stereotypical, sexist expectations and shows them what she really has to offer. Because Frankie is far from just a pretty face!
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks started off slow. The pace didn't pick up until about 200 pages in, and it took awhile before the story really grabbed my attention. During Frankie's first year of boarding school, she escaped the notice of Matthew Livingston, her huge crush, and all of his friends. She fit more into the geeky crowd, and she hadn't grown into her body yet. But that all changes in her second year. Frankie has matured in certain places, and suddenly, Matthew, Alpha, and their friends are interested in hanging out with Frankie. Matthew even wants to be more than friends with her. At first, she is excited and shocked by the newfound interest Matthew is showing, and she tries to play it cool and like she hasn't been completely besotted with him the whole last year. But then, she notices how Matthew frequently ditches her for Alpha and this secret society. And how her opinion doesn't seem to matter as much as her looks. She finds the all-male secret society's exclusionary nature frustrating, and she decides to take matters into her own hands. That's when the pace really picks up, and I was nearly screaming, "YOU GO GIRL!"
Frankie Landau-Banks. You have guts and I respect you immensely. I would say balls, but I find the phrase "grow a pair" to be a step backwards for the feminist movement. By saying this phrase, I feel like you're reinforcing the notion that men are stronger and more courageous than women.
“Frankie appreciated both the accolades and the rejections equally, because both meant she'd had an impact. She wasn't a person who needed to be liked so much as she was a person who liked to be notorious.”
Exactly! Sometimes, it felt like this power struggle between the sexes was caused by Frankie's need for attention. More than anything, I think Frankie wanted to prove everyone wrong. Nobody believed in her, nobody thought she could pull off such wonderful schemes. Did I judge her for this? No. While Frankie is a criminal mastermind, she is still a teenager. And that means that yes, she is going to have insecurities and vulnerable moments. She does act childish at times, but she is still discovering herself and learning what she believes in. There were so many pressures weighing her down as well. Her father, her mother, her boyfriend...they all wanted her to be the Frankie they thought she was. Her boyfriend was completely oblivious to Frankie's true character. He chose not to see who Frankie really was, and I could not stand him at all. Alpha was more perceptive than Matthew, but even he clung to stereotypes.
More than anything, I feel like The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks speaks to the ongoing struggle for women to find their place in society. I mean, it even made it on the 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader list! Yes, Frankie is only a teenager and hardly out in the real world, but already she feels the sting of sexism's bite. By the end, Frankie realizes that she'd rather be alone than with someone who doesn't truly know her. I can understand that because sometimes it is lonelier being with someone who doesn't really get you than it is being alone. But Frankie feeds on power. It's not that she wants to discard a patriarchal society, but that she wants to be on top in that society. And if Frankie was a real person, she would have a long, hard road of it and would have to overcome many obstacles on our way up. I don't envy her that.
Despite the slow start and Frankie's overzealous attempts to be "one of the guys," I found The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks to be, overall, a clever, insightful look into the brilliant mind of a usurper bent on changing the status quo. I admire and respect Frankie, and I only wish she was a real person so I could give her a hug and be her friend.