Kat's Reviews > The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
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's review
Jun 03, 09

bookshelves: chick-lit, young-adult, read-in-2009, borrowed-from-library
Read in June, 2009, read count: 1

I read the first three chapters of this book several weeks prior, but I put it down in favor of reading something else. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for teenage rebellion at the time. But once I got into the book, it quickly grew on me. Frankie is introduced as a simple, but beautiful, teenage girl who attends a prestigious preparatory school previously attended by her father and sister. She's smart, funny, pretty and geeky, but quickly becomes popular after she 'blossoms' over the summer. Her boyfriend Matthew is the hottest guy on campus. So why is Frankie not satisfied? It's the secrecy her boyfriend and his friends display when they're around anyone — including Frankie — who's not in their inner circle.

The remainder of this review has minor spoilers.

To some, there appears to be a fine line between school pranks for the sake of humor and pranking to promote social change. While Frankie brilliantly devises the schemes (that the all-boys secret society executes) to raise awareness about the old ways of Alabaster Prep, most of the student body just see them as clever pranks with no deeper meaning. When it becomes public knowledge that Frankie is the one who planned them all, instead of receiving praise for her ingenuity, she's instead viewed as a psychopath. Why are her pranks brilliant if planned by a boy, but psychotic if planned by a girl?

One of the best things about this book is the constant use of the 'neglected positive.' I laughed when Frankie says words like "pugn", "maculate" and "gruntled". I, too, wonder why certain words have prefixes that seem to negate the word itself. I must admit I was not very 'pressed' with Lockhart's clever use of these words.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks can be seen as a feminist book, but I can understand arguments that say the opposite. On the one hand, Frankie is a powerful girl who manages to secretly plan grand-scale pranks and get boys to carry out her plans. But on the other, she goes to these great lengths so that her boyfriend will see her as his equal, or perhaps even his superior. To do all these things for the sake of changing school policies and proving women can be just as smart as (or smarter than) men is one thing, but to do it all to win the admiration of a cute boy is entirely another.

Frankie Landau-Banks is like any ordinary girl who just wants to feel accepted, be appreciated for her brains rather than her beauty, and be admired by her boyfriend. She more than proves herself as being an intelligent young woman, far more intelligent than the boys she so successfully manipulates to do her bidding, but she does so at a cost. She learns the hard way that you can't have everything, but some things are worth having more than others.

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