To be honest I picked up “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks” by E. Lockhart solely because it looked like fluff. I know, I know, never judge a book by its cover and all that but between “The Mayor Casterbridge”, “To the Lighthouse”, and “The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne” I needed something that didn’t have suicide, death, alcoholism, brave new adventures into the art of fiction or confinement to sick homes in it. If it was really fluff that I was looking for than I should have gone with “Nikki” by Meg Cabot, what I got instead was cutting humor, brilliant ideas and a wonderfully flawed character who was actually someone you could relate to. (Yes, I did relate to Judith Hearne’s depression but let’s put that aside, shall we?)
Here’s the plot overview from Shelfari: 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. This is the story of how she got that way.
Trying to describe the “The Disreputable History” without giving way the whole twisty-turning plot is nae impossible. (Did I use nae right? Eh, someone will probably comment on this sharply if I did.) What I’m going to give you are a few brief reasons why I liked “The Disreputable History” so much that I gave it five out of five stars and marked it a “favorite” on Shelfari.
Why I Really liked “The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks”
- It has funny grammar jokes. Grammar jokes? Hello! Funny grammar jokes? Where are you going, Sailor!?
- The main character is a fan of P.G. Wodehouse. No wait, not just a fan. A good portion of the plot hinges on her reading “The Code of the Woosters”. In fact, some of the grammar jokes revolve around a line from “The Code”.
- Frankie is angry. This is not the teenage angst Fuck-My-Parents-Fuck-You-All-You-Don’t-Know-What-I’m-Going-Through-You-Don’t-Know-My-Demons but rather the anger that builds after an ambitious person is spurned. This is a slow simmer anger that builds and builds until fish are kidnapped, bras are everywhere and there is a basset hound sculpted out of vegetables. Crap, only three bullets into my list and already I’m starting to give away the plot.
- She uses the panopticon to describe high school. Is that not perfect? It’s perfect.
- Frankie’s mother is Jewish.
- Popular kids don’t suck and geeks aren’t pure hearted. “The Disreputable History” relies not on flat characterizations but rather well developed social circles.
- I read this book in under twenty-four hours and laughed vocally while doing so.
If you’re now going, “Panopticon? Secret societies? Basset hounds? P.G. WODEHOUSE? Where can I get this book?” then there are two things I have to say to you.
1. We should be friends.
2. Buy this at your local independent book store or your town library. Why those two book vendors? Because it’s good for you.