I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out that The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart was selected as a 2009 Printz Honor Book. It was also a National Book Award Finalist last year. I read this book a few months back and instantly fell in love with it.
Let’s start with the characters. If you know me at all, you’ll know that I usually don’t like the main characters in stories, but I found the character of Frankie to be a very relatable girl whose wit and intellect is repressed by the power and supposed cleverness of an all boy’s club at her new school. The boys in the story are depicted as pompous and oppressive while the girls hardly have a voice in the story at all and their attitudes, which are usually quiet and passive, is, I think, exaggerated for the author to bring across her point.
I found myself laughing out loud many times throughout the book and the way the story is told was very clever. The book narrates the story of Frankie’s experience at her new school and how an oppressive group of boys drove her to be a criminal mastermind.
The story was slow at times but the witty writing of E. Lockhart always kept it from being truly boring. The book got me to think—which is the most important aspect to me—some of the points she makes are excellent and incredibly interesting.
After the book was selected as a 2009 Printz Honor Book, E. Lockhart said in her acceptance speech that an inspiration for the book was The Suicide Club by Robert Lewis Stevenson.
“My own book pulls from Stevenson's the notion that membership in a club involves a renegotiation of oneself in relationship to the rules of the larger society; from the San Francisco club, the idea of people staging events that are rebellious and funny. Kind of like theater and kind of like protest. Also the idea of people scooting around in sewers or steam tunnels, climbing the outsides of buildings – I imagined those as ways my heroine would challenge the orderly rules of the boarding school society in which she lives.”
If you look hard enough, I guess you can find a few aspects of The Suicide Club in this The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks but saying anything more might be over dramatizing it. This book is a Young Adult, chick-lit, coming of age kind of story. It's a good story but there really is nothing revolutionary about it.
One more thing: this book isn’t a ‘kids’ book. It’s a YA novel so there is some cursing but nothing truly inappropriate. I didn’t find anything truly convicting in this book, but that’s just me. So give it a chance and find out for yourself, I guess.
All in all, it was a good book, definitely an intriguing read. Nothing groundbreaking, really, but if you want a well written, interesting, and funny book to read, I would recommend this book.
“Matthew had called her harmless. Harmless. And being with him made Frankie feel squashed into a box--a box where she was expected to be sweet and sensitive (but not oversensitive); a box for young and pretty girls who were not as bright or powerful as their boyfriends. A box for people who were not forces to be reckoned with.
Frankie wanted to be a force.” -The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks