August 11, 2010

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

Oh, I just loved this book!  (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, Book No. 30, by E. Lockhart) It's another Y.A. book, and I KNOW I'm too old for this (more self-analysis at a later date on why I keep picking up Y.A. books the past year or so - I have been thinking about it) but it had a fun plot, great characters, funny parts, sad parts.

I came across a mention of the book on this blog (which I randomly came across while looking for dress sewing patterns, of all things) and the blogger's enthusiasm plus the fact that the book was nominated for a National Book Award made me feel like it might be worth reading.  I finished it all in one lovely, hot, lazy weekend day (to the detriment of the piles of laundry waiting to be laundered and the kitchen waiting to be cleaned and the dog waiting to be walked). 

Frankie is a teenage girl recently blossomed into someone that boys and girls alike are beginning to notice.  She's smart, good-looking, and does not like being told what to do.  She becomes obsessed with her school's boys-only secret society, a group which claims as its members her father and current and ex-boyfriends alike.  She manages to infiltrate the group via email, talks them into a number of genius school pranks...  and I don't want to give away the ending.

But it's interesting.  It's about girl power, and also about the lessons Frankie learns when she doesn't play by the Old Boy rules.  Double standards are alive and well.  When her pranks are discovered, she has to ask, "Why is it psychotic if I did it it, and brilliant if Alpha [a male student] did it?"   It makes her think, and hopefully it will make Ms. Lockhart's female readers think.  It's a funny, smart book, and while it doesn't necessarily have a Happy Ending, the conclusion is solid and rings true. 

Of course the book has many ingredients I love: Teenagers good and bad, boarding school, successful teenage girls, secret societies, crushes, language games, literary references.  Some minor points jarred slightly - does a sophomore girl really read P.G. Wodehouse for fun?  But then I decided maybe Frankie does.  She seems like she might, so I took it at face value.

Loved it.  I ran out and picked up two more by Lockhart.  (I can't stop with the teen books!)  Info to follow.

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