I highly recommend The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks for the older high school reader in your life. It tells the story of Frankie Landau-Banks, currently a sophomore at Alabaster Prep. She has morphed from forgettable to noticeable over the summer and is enjoying the attention. When the hottest guy on campus asks her to go out and she becomes part of his inner circle, she’s so excited she can barely stand it. At first.
It doesn’t take long for Frankie to wonder what would happen to her friendships with the other guys if she’s no longer dating Matthew Livingston. She soon sees firsthand how ex-girlfriends are treated when one of the guys dumps his current girlfriend. Overnight, she is persona non grata. This also leads Frankie to wonder what it would take for her to be invited into the boys’ secret society – a society she has heard about all her life from her father, an Alabaster alum and secret society member. She’s been told all her life that the friendships forged at Alabaster are the friendships that last a lifetime – and she’s seen it for herself in her father’s social and business lives.
Frankie’s dilemma rests upon the fact that she can get only so close to the things the boys take for granted. By virtue of nothing more than her gender, she is closed out of the easy socializing that will bring them lifelong connections. And it isn’t just the social connections she wants to claim as her own. She craves the nonchalance they show about their place in the world. To Frankie, her exclusion is an insult to her intellect and abilities as well. When her roommate tells her it’s no fun hanging with the guys and she’d rather stay home and make fruit crumble instead, Frankie wonders how long it will be before that becomes her only role.
Finally, Frankie decides to beat the boys at their own game. As with everything she sets out to do, Frankie achieves her goal with panache. The outcome of her march on Alabaster is not the one she’d intended – we know from the start that she is forced to confess. What we don’t discover until the end is the way in which the ramifications of that confession are dictated by gender and Frankie’s reaction.
E. Lockhart has created a full world with well-developed characters and a story that’s hard to put down. This is not a strident manifesto on the role of gender in power or the limitations imposed upon females by a misogynistic society. It is a thoroughly engaging and well-written book about a girl who nearly jumps from the pages to invite you along on her adventure.
Rating: 5 stars
Sex scenes: 0
Awards: National Book Award Finalist
E. Lockhart’s Blog