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The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

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Fifteen-year-old Frankie Landau-Banks has grown up a lot over the summer. She's no longer daddy's little girl - and almost immediately after starting the new semester at her highly prestigious school, she bags goofy-but-gorgeous Matthew Livingston as her boyfriend. They get along great but then Frankie discovers that Matthew is a member of a boys-only secret society that specialise in 'hilarious' pranks. Which hardly seems fair... especially when Frankie knows she's smarter than any of its members. And to prove this, she's going to teach them a lesson.

Impersonating lead member Alpha by using a fake email account is surprisingly easy, and soon Frankie is setting the boys up with all sorts of ridiculous schemes and sending them on wild goose chase after wild goose chase. Alpha's not prepared to lose face and admit it's not him sending the emails - but the fun can't last forever, and soon Frankie will have to choose between what she think she wants, and the reputation she deserves.

342 pages, Paperback

First published March 25, 2008

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About the author

E. Lockhart

21 books14.5k followers
E. Lockhart is the author of Again Again, Genuine Fraud, We Were Liars and Family of Liars, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and several other books. Whistle: A New Gotham CIty Hero is a graphic novel.

website: www.emilylockhart.com
Instagram: elockhartbooks
Twitter: elockhart

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5 stars
14,170 (28%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,621 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
August 7, 2011
ooh... secret societies and gender politics...

If you're female and between the ages of about 12 and 25, I cannot think of a single reason why you shouldn't read this book. It's fantastic. Both highly political and incredibly funny - it's the book I wish I'd been given to see me through being a teenager and to prepare me for later life. And no, I never went to an elite prep school with a bunch of stuffy trainee 'old boys' and a 60 year old all-male secret society... but I, like every girl I know, could have done with the reassurance that being your own person is more important than fitting the mold and that women are worth more than just a chest measurement. The story spoke to me on many levels and addressed issues that I have written articles on and feel very strongly about.

On the surface, it's a high school tale of cliques, first loves and mischief - quite like the author's The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver and the other Ruby Oliver books. I enjoyed reading about Ruby and frequently related to her but, for me, Frankie Landau-Banks was all the more kick-ass, funny and just so memorable. She's a 5-star heroine and the perfect partner in crime... if only she were real.

The writing in this novel was flawless with some hilarious dialogue between the characters, particularly regarding some of Frankie's ridiculous neglected positives, it's such a silly idea that shouldn't be so funny but I have no idea how many times I must have laughed. Little scenes like this are what made the book for me:

"They're not puppets, they're muppets," said Frankie. "I have a serious and justified love for Kermit that I will parage to the end."
"Parage. The neglected postive of disparage."
"You mean defend. You will defend Kermit to the end."
"Parage. I will parage him. And Animal, too. I love Animal. I used to watch that show on DVD all the time when I was little."
Trish changed the subject. "We should do facials and paint our toenails Friday before they pick us up. What do you say, blow through dinner and come back here for girlie stuff?"
Frankie said, "You're on. When we're finished, we'll be absolutely sheveled."
"You'll be sheveled," said Trish. "I'm a normal person."

I mean, come on, that's funny. And she's so effin' stubborn it's great. I just loved Frankie and loved the plot and loved the book. I took notes on the damn thing. No, really, there are parts of this book that you just have to note down. By 'you', of course, I actually mean me.

I also want to point out for all you cynical people who "bah humbug" at novels set in high schools following a girl through her relationships and pranky misdeeds... this really is a great political statement. But it's in the dialogue and Frankie's awesomeness that it's revealed, sometimes subtle and sometimes not. My favourite thing about it is how the school represents today's society as a whole and the truths about the equality myth. Because, sadly, even though men and women are supposed to have the same opportunities and they are now allowed into the same professions, they sit at the same tables and they even become friends, beneath it all there is still an inner circle - rather like a secret society - that continues to slam the door in a woman's face. But better than this metaphor is the message behind it: that if you put your mind to it, you don't have to accept the way things are. That you have the ability to change the way of the world. Or the way of a prep school. Like Frankie does.

Profile Image for zan.
125 reviews41 followers
March 3, 2009
Next time I see a 15-year-old girl reading Twilight, I will promptly yoink it from her hands and replace it with this. (As long as she's not already dressed as a vampire.)
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.1k followers
September 11, 2015
A solid, teen, feminist novel!

I really enjoy e. lockhart's writing and this book didn't let me down! A story about a girl navigating a boarding school where boys have some /special/ privileges over girls, she starts to fight against that system. I liked the main character, enjoyed the boarding school setting, and really appreciated the feminist angle. My only reason for not giving this 5 stars is that I don't think that a) it did anything particularly new with plot or character development, and b) it very firmly felt like a simple introduction to feminism - the lessons here are important, but are also very rudimentary and simple.

Definitely recommend this to any teenagers who like boarding school books and who want to learn some basics of feminism!
Profile Image for Nataliya.
782 reviews12.5k followers
April 27, 2023
You need to look past the surface cuteness to see this story for what it really is.

- It's about power. The allure of it, the desire for it, the sharp understanding of it.
- It's about ambition, unashamed and unabashed.
- It's about forcing your way through the doors that are not meant to open for you.

It's about the formation of a future astute politician.

Meet Frankie Landau-Banks.
“And so, another possibility—the possibility I hold out for—is that Frankie Landau-Banks will open the doors she is trying to get through.
And she will grow up to change the world.”
E. Lockhart is a mastermind who knows very well how to play with her readers' perceptions and expectations. In writing a story about a young woman trying so hard to grow out of being a 'Bunny Rabbit', a 'harmless' 'pretty package' sweet and sensitive young girl supportively watching her boyfriend and his friends learn to grow into their birthright of securely powerful WASPs, she created a story that can be so temping to pigeonhole:

- into the story about a boarding school and secret societies.
- into the story of learning about feminism.
- into an unfortunate love story.
- into a coming of age story.
- into a story about the silly problems of those who have all the privilege and none of the real struggle.

But it's more that any of the above.

And I stick with my idea that the glue that keeps this story together and elevates it head and shoulders above so many others is precisely the theme of power and ambition and politics; all this in a young woman who typically is not associated with any of the above, whose role is traditionally supposed to be something different - so different, that when she deviates from it, she's viewed somewhere on the borderline between 'obsessed' and 'psychotic'.

But Frankie knows what she wants.

“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.
Frankie Landau-Banks comes from a life of privilege. Her family is rich and connected. Her exclusive New England preparatory school is a feeder school for Harvard. Everyone is rich (but , of course, tastefully not flaunting it), mostly WASP, smart and well-spoken and bristling with security that befits those destined by birthright and money to make it big in this world, to rule. Forging connections here is important because Frankie's classmates will be the ruling elite. One of them may even run for President one day.
“Senior’s boyhood days were still the largest looming factor in his conception of himself. His former schoolfellows were his closest friends. They were the people he golfed with, the people he invited for drinks, the people whose country homes he visited on vacation. They were people he recommended for jobs; people who sent him patients and asked him to sit on boards of arts organizations; people who connected him to other people.”
The problem is: while they can strive to be the President, in this world Frankie's brightest ambition *should* be the First Lady. Support on the sidelines. A pretty package. Unable to enter the Old Boys world.

And that stings.
“And because of her sex, because of her age, because (perhaps) of her religion and her feminism, she could sit at their table every day and she would never, never, ever get in.

Frankie had fallen in love not only with Matthew but with his group of friends. And she knew they didn’t rate her as anyone important.”

That's where this book drew criticisms from many: that Frankie wants to assert power by infiltrating the world of the secret boy society, that she does not instead go and start her own thing (like her Berkeley-educated sister suggests), that she does not find something worthier than the Old Boy power squabbles, that she wants to take over something that the 'old society' created instead of proudly denouncing it and building something new.

Maybe her idealism is simply lacking?
“Please, that is so antiquated. The institutions of male supremacy only have real power over you if you buy into that notion. Go found your own club and tell them they can’t join. Or better yet, drop the idea of clubs altogether because they’re exclusionary, and embrace some other, more flexible way of connecting with people.”

“But, Zada.” Frankie wanted to explain about the door being closed, about wanting to push through the door, about wanting not to feel small and second-best at the table. But Zada cut her off.”
Or maybe Frankie already realizes at the age of fifteen, in the middle of her “intellectual explosion sophomore year”: the power is where it is, and instead of carving herself a niche on the outskirts of the 'old boys' universe - a niche that the ones in power can go on blissfully ignoring - she does not see why exactly she cannot just join, participate - and, perhaps, overtake.

She wants in, and she wants her share of existing power. She refuses to be kept on the sidelines, and in order to avoid it you need to step into the WASP nest. You need to go off the beaten path of creating your own niche and claw your way into the rigid the world that already has power, and bend it into the shape that suits you - instead of waiting for someone else to finally hand you what you deserve.

“Frankie Landau-Banks is an off-roader.

She might, in fact, go crazy, as has happened to a lot of people who break rules. Not the people who play at rebellion but really only solidify their already dominant positions in society—as did Matthew and most of the other Bassets—but those who take some larger action that disrupts the social order. Who try to push through the doors that are usually closed to them. They do sometimes go crazy, these people, because the world is telling them not to want the things they want. It can seem saner to give up—but then one goes insane from giving up.”
Frankie's plans may have not exactly gone as she expected. Yes, she was misunderstood. Yes, the ones wanting to pigeonhole her found ways to continue doing it instead of taking a good look at their perceptions and prejudices. Yes, the others may have thought the problem was with Frankie and not the rest of her insular world. Yes, she was hurt and lonely and angry.

But none of this made her doubt even for a moment that there are things that need to be changed, and things that she wants, and that she is not going to quit doing exactly what she wants to do and achieve what she wants to achieve.
“Frankie did not accept life as it was presently occurring. It was a fundamental element of her character. Life as it was presently occurring was not acceptable to her.”
And it's for this tenacity, perseverance and refusal to neatly fit into the predetermined role in somebody else's universe that I love Frankie Landau-Banks.

Don't cross her path and try to hold her back.
Because the power is hers and she will do amazing things with it someday.
We can only hope those great things will also be good.
“It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.

She will not be simple and sweet. She will not be what people tell her she should be. That Bunny Rabbit is dead.”
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,633 reviews34k followers
February 4, 2016
I've pushed through to 100 pages, but I just can't go on. For all its braininess, this book feels very juvenile to me, except that girls in most middle grade books are rarely this boy-crazy--and few of them have so little else going on their lives.

Here are some things that make it feel very young to me:

--the story seems to be centered around a "caper" in which Frankie tries to infiltrate a secret boys club
--three boys who don't recognize Frankie after her body develops (or pretend not to, anyway)
--a full page about boogers
--occasional overuse of exclamation points
--and above all else, the writing style

Written in the third person with an occasional interruption by some unknown narrator, it's all done in arch prose that strives very hard to be humorous and clever without being very smart. Or deep. Or interesting. At least to me, because this book certainly has its share of fans.

I'll leave you with just one paragraph so you can decide whether this writing floats your boat and if you want to read any further:

Most young women, when confronted with the peculiarly male nature of certain social events--usually those incorporating beer or other substances guaranteed to kill off brain cells, and often involving either the freezing-cold outdoors or the near-suffocating heat of a filthy dorm room, but which can also, in more intellectual circles, include the watching of boring Russian films--will react in one of three ways.

Honestly, the whole premise of this felt like a brain candy book disguised as something much more smart or meaningful. Boys aren't paying attention to you? Who cares? Not me.

Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
May 14, 2020
mary lou retton two times!!

this is the teen fiction the good girls read. girls without problems like anorexia or cutting or promiscuity or retrograde amnesia. the ones whose mothers don't need to worry about them rotting their brains on vampires and rainbow parties. the ones janis ian envied:

"high school girls with clear skinned smiles who married young and then retired"

i mean, it is published by disney, so i wasn't expecting smut and guts, but it's pretty precious and twee, qualities which usually give me the angers.

reading the prologue, i thought i was going to hate it - all those cutesy perky wordplays - eventually you learn there is a reason for it, but that doesn't make it any less irritating.it is like the kid sister of special topics in calamity physics, a book i rather enjoyed, but i can totally understand other people's hatred of.

at the end of the day, it is a cutesy adventure story for spunky girls. like... like... mary lou retton!

there are a number of positive things about this book; smart girl with energy and a mischievous mind who tries to overthrow an all-male secret society (who hasn't been there, right??) but for all her grrl power, she ain't no feminist. even when attempting flirtation with her older boy love interest, she mentally tests and rejects a number of responses, rating them on the basis of "how he will respond and what it will say about me as a person." what happened to just being yourself, and not a weirdly manipulative and calculating freak? where is sassy magazine c. 1991 for this chick??

and at the end THIS IS WHERE I AM TALKING A LITTLE ABOUT THE ENDING OF THE BOOK, DIG?? when she fails to win the respect of the boys she has been following around and on the one hand being a secret leader to, but on the other hand, really just trying to impress them so they will accept her regardless of her gender, she gets a little shrieky and petulant which just makes her come across as a victim, which is way unattractive. plus, the club she wants to get into is super-lame. a real girl-power book would have her start her own secret society with the couple of girls who are worth anything in this book and like band together in a prank-off (i mean, isn't this practically a disney template?? stop slacking, mickey...) and then it would all end in a spectacular floor routine in a leotard the color of victory.

it's not painful to read or anything, but i have a feeling elizabeth would fulking HATE it...

come to my blog!
Profile Image for CeJayCe.
93 reviews53 followers
June 17, 2011
I'm more than a third of the way into it and, I've gotta say, I'm disappointed. There's too much build up. So far, all I'm getting is a over-analyzation of every aspect of Frankie's relationship with Matthew. You'd think this far in I'd at least get some kind of clue as to what she's done that was so big.

Now I've gotten to Porter and the cheese fries and, even though she may be making a valid point--Porter shouldn't be more worried about her well-being now just because she's prettier, she sounds like a crazy bitch the way she carries on. And, not that it's right, but what Porter's saying is true. I mean, it's not like it's not true that guys typically go after girls with prettier faces and bigger boobs. There's no point in pretending we don't know that. So Frankie may be a bit more on the radar than she was last year. Still, it was awful presumptuous of Porter to tell her that. It's like saying, "I know I didn't tell you to watch out for other guys when we were dating, but you're kinda hot now so I thought I should let you know."

While I commend Frankie for calling him on it, I can't say I agree with the way she handled it. (i.e. Screaming and raising hell in a public place.) And then she goes on about being "proud" of herself.

Frankie hadn't liked herself while she'd been yelling at Porter--but she had admired herself.

How, exactly, can you feel both of those ways at once? About yourself?

And then it goes on to say:

So I was a monster, she thought. At least I wasn't someone's little sister, someone's girlfriend, some sophmore, some girl--someone whose opinions don't matter.

So you'd rather be a monster, Frankie? You'd rather people look at you and see a raging lunatic if you think it gets your point across? Because I can honestly say NO ONE is going to take you seriously or even listen to you for that matter when you act like you've just lost your mind. You can be composed and still get your point across. You say that the other ways girls deal with being offended are pouting, grumbling, moping, or whining (all of which YOU do yourself throughout the story). But you did not list "talking". Maybe it's because you haven't tried that yet, but when you actual state your opinion in a composed voice like a sensible person, people tend to listen. Especially when you can back up whatever you're saying. And since when do the opinions of sisters, girlfriends, sophmores, and girls in general not matter?

And if you ask me, Frankie's whole "I'm an independent woman" campaign never stops backfiring. She's really no better than all the spineless girls who let their boyfriends walk all over them. Only, instead of doing everything he wants, she's doing whatever he DOESN'T want her to do or doesn't expect her to do. Which really isn't what she wants to do at all. Like eating garlic knots, which she hates, just because Alpha assumed she wouldn't want any. Yeah, she ate them to prove him wrong. But what good is that when he was right anyway and she really DIDN'T want any? All she did was make herself eat something she hated. From what I could see, it didn't earn her anymore respect from him. So she's still letting her boyfriend (not to mention his friends) control all her actions.

And is it me, or is it really hard to believe she really cares for him at all? I mean, it seems like she's so busy over-analyzing everything he says and does to really enjoy the relationship their in.

Prime example:

Frankie felt herself flush. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," said Matthew. "I like a girl who knows how to take a compliment. You know how so many girls are all, 'Oh, me? I'm not pretty. I'm a hag.'"
"Well, it's so much nicer when someone just says thank you. So don't become that girl, okay?"
"That haggy girl? Okay."


A tiny part of her wanted to go over to him and shout, "I can feel like a hag some days if I want!"

...What the hell was that, Frankie? Again, she's trying so hard not to let him control her that she's making herself look stupid. He was complimenting her. And basically saying, "Don't change because I like you the way that you are." Now if he had told her to change she would've had a fit too. But instead he tells her not to change and she thinks crap like, "Oh, yeah? I can be a hag if I want to!" Yeah. Yeah, you can, Frankie. It's true that he can't tell you how to feel or act. But get real. No girl WANTS to be a hag. That was a pretty suckish rebuttal. (Are you really on the debate team?) And his comment didn't need an argument. Hardly anything he says or does really NEEDS an argument.

And I've yet to see this so-called "genius" she possesses. I admit she seems more aware of herself and her relationship than most girls. But she doesn't ever DO anything about it. She admits that Matthew wants her in his world but doesn't really want anything to do with hers. He doesn't come to her dorm, attempt to be nice to Trish the way she does with his friends, or even ask about her family. And Frankie acknowledges all this and does nothing. She's OKAY with it.

Lots of girls don't notice when they are in this situation. They are so focused on their boyfriends that they don't remember they had a life at all before their romances, so they don't become upset that the boyfriend isn't interested.

Frankie did notice--but she wasn't sure she cared.

Why? Why wouldn't she care? She's so concerned with being her own person, but she wants to immerse herself in his world. Every compliment and gift he gives her needs to be analyzed for any double meanings, but he doesn't have to show any interest in her life, friends, or family. It's like the thing with her making up the stupid words and then him correcting her. I mean, if you care about someone you wouldn't want them walking around using words with no real meaning. They'd sound stupid. She sounds stupid when she does it. I would've corrected her too if I were him. But instead of just listening to the dictionary, she gets upset and oversensitive (yes, Frankie, you're oversensitive. Matthew AND Porter have told you this. They're not making it up.) and continues to use the word and, therefore, sound like an idiot.

My point is, Frankie's not arguing on the points she should be arguing on. The book is trying to give us the impression that she's set so far apart from average high-school girls, but she's really not.

Even her mentality is achingly typical at times:

--but she was a heterosexual sophmore with no boyfriend and no social power (especially now that Zada had graduated). On what planet would a girl in her position refuse to go to a golf course party with Matthew Livingston?

Yes, he's the cool senior and you're the average sophmore nobody. I think you've stressed that enough Frankie. I was hoping for something more original.

Futhermore, she's a stalker. And a pathetic one at that. She may claim she's following her boyfriend and all the dumb guys around because she's advocating some stupid right women supposedly have to join their club. But the real deal is that she just wants to be a part of that inner circle. She feels like they don't value her that much, which is true. And she's so worried about being friends with them and being popular that she's willing to follow them around in the dark and watch them while they drink beer, eat chips, and talk guy stuff. I believe her sister Zada said it best:

"Please, that is so antiquated. The institution of male supremacy only have real power over you if you buy into that notion. Go found your own club and tell them they can't join. Or better yet, drop the idea of clubs altogether because they're exclusionary, and embrace some other, more flexible way of connecting with people."
"But, Zada." Frankie wanted to explain about the door being closed, about wanting to push through the door, about wanting not to feel small and second-best at the caf table. But Zada cut her off.
"Don't stress over this, Frankie. It's okay if Matthew's in some dumb drinking club that you're not in. Just let him be in it and go do your own thing."

Thank you, Zada. Clearly, Frankie doesn't give a crap, really, about her right as a women to be in that club. (Which she really doesn't have, anyway. It's not like it's supported by the school or anything. And why would she want to be in it? It's a group of guys bonding with other guys in a way that they can't bond with girls. Why does she have to interfere with that? There's absolutely nothing wrong with it.) She just wants to do whatever her boyfriend is doing so she'll feel accepted and not "second-best at the caf table".

And all for a group of people whom she clearly cares about more than they care about her. (And who will be graduating next year and leaving her anyway.) And she can claim to be so into Matthew all she wants. It's obvious none of this is about love. This about her being whiny and bratty. Like a little kid sibling that wants to do everything and be everywhere their older sibling is. It's annoying and not so endearing after the age of six.

Less on Frankie and more on the book in it's entirety, it didn't live up to my expectations at all. For one thing, there were a lot of characters and a lot of names that seemed like they needed remembering because they showed up so often (which they didn't, really) and there were hardly any descriptions. I couldn't imagine a face for anyone. Not even Frankie. In the very first pages it basically said she went from gawky to hot and that's it. And the book would sometimes throw out names of people that had never been mentioned like you were supposed to know who they were. No background, no description, just a name.

The omniscient narrator was a bit difficult to follow sometimes too. Sometimes it seemed like they were making a point like, "Hey, this little tidbit is important. It's going to come up later, so remember it." And then other times they were just rambling, almost indistinguishable from Frankie's thoughts and what we were supposed to infer that she was thinking.

This is without a doubt the longest review I've ever done. And I typically do pretty long reviews. But this here is like my book on what's wrong with the book. E. Lockhart really disappointed me with this. Her other books are so great. I was prepared to be completely dazzled and now...*sigh*. If I could give it my own rating it'd be 1.75 stars for I've-Read-WAY-Better-But-It's-Not-The-Absolute-Worst.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
August 22, 2018
Update 8/21/2018
What a difference 2 years make. It feels like this book has aged 30 years since I read it last time in 2016. Amazing how much the conversation around feminism and privilege changed in such a short time. Hard to recommend this book now though.

Update 9/16/2016
Considering it's a 8-year old YA novel and how much YA has improved over these 8 years, I think it held up pretty well. Maybe not 5 stars any more, but still worthy of a read.

This is definitely one of those clever and sophisticated YA books that is a must-read for any teenage girl and adults as well. It is not limited to some teen romance and angst, but it is a commentary on social and gender dynamics.

Frankie might be overly ambitious and driven, and she might not have made all the smartest decisions, trying to get appreciation from people who by default perceive her to be no more than a pretty pet, but she figured out the main thing right: it is important to be your own person (not just a man's arm-candy), to be appreciated for your personal qualities and talents and not only for your adorable face and nice figure.

Writing style is flawless, dialog superb. Now, having read this novel second time, I am upgrading it to 5 stars. "The Disreputable History" is definitely E. Lockhart's best book to date and the one I expect to re-read over and over again.
Profile Image for summer.
248 reviews298 followers
November 4, 2014
It's a feminist novel, they said. It won a Printz-award, they said.

What I say:


The synopsis should have set off sirens in my head.

From the summary alone, what does this seem like? The story of a Mary Sue obsessed with herself. Oh, goody. *eye roll*

In reality, this was a book about a girl who thinks she's better than the entire female population and spends the majority of her high school career trying to prove herself to guys.

Now tell me, how is this in any way "feminist" (which the books sets out to be) if all it does is make girls seem lesser than guys? If you ever wanted to read a book that tries extremely hard to be feminist but ends coming off as propaganda, then here it is in the form of a contemporary novel.

I HATE being preached to.

And this book does exactly that.

Say goodbye to subtlety, because TDHoFLB (what an ugly acronym) employs any and all methods possible to shove its personal agenda across--that is, to portray the "ideal female." Forget girl friends, because Frankie is OBVIOUSLY smarter and more intelligent than them. Liking "girly" stuff? Nope, nope, nope. Frankie wants to be the best, and the best is gaining the approval of teenage guys.

Not only does she crave their validation, but she also paints them as evul beings and the scum of the Earth (how this makes sense, I have no idea). So if all girls are stupid, and all guys are power-hungry, then what is she?

Speshul. Different. A genius. Of course.


She rants on and on and tries to prove time and time again how "independent" she is, but why does she pay so much attention to guys if she don't need no men? In the end she comes off as a bratty teenage girl who is used to getting everything she wants, and when she doesn't all hell breaks loose.

Hey, I'm all for female empowerment and standing up for yourself, but when you get mad over every little minuscule thing that is extremely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, how am I supposed to support you, much less respect you?

What really made me want to rip my hair out was the part where Frankie refuses to join the field hockey team. Fine, good for you, whatever. But the reason she adamantly rejected it was because only girls play the sport. Are you freaking shitting me? There are no words. RAGE.


Who says you can't be cute and deadly? *snickers*

Not only was Frankie insanely sexist, but she was also pretentious and snobby. Really, I shouldn't have expected anything less from a book about a high-profile private school with a bunch of privileged white kids and their white kid problems. Go figure.

There was absolutely nothing positive about this book, aside from the fact that it has a shiny sticker award that proves that it makes kids smarter. #sarcasm Oh, and I learned some new words not-so-subtly interwoven in the writing, straight from an SAT book. Yay for thesauruses!

I highly doubt I'll be reading any of Lockhart's books at any point in the future. This book just angered me so much that I doubt I'll be able to handle any of her other novels. Moreover, her writing is glaringly pretentious in a way that comes off as I'm-smart-and-clever-and-you're-not-hahaha. AKA, John Green was most likely inspired by you.

I don't know why everyone and their mom praises this book. I truly don't think this book is the best one to be shoving into teens' hands, nor is it the best portrayal of feminism in YA. In fact, it's probably the worst.

Profile Image for Sonia Reppe.
925 reviews56 followers
October 4, 2008
First of all, I agree with feminism and equal opportunities and all that, and I appreciate that this book had a "girl power" theme, but the main character was not a good representation of an admirable woman. She was intelligent and competative, but was also the worst stereotype of a jealous, conniving, sneaky bitch. I thought she made girls look totally bad. She was jealous that her boyfriend was in a secret all-male social club, and was somehow insulted that she wasn't invited and that he wouldn't tell her about it. Frankie, it's a secret boys club! Start your own secret girls club! That's my opinion. She was so annoying. If a character said something like, for example, "boys are more agressive than girls because of their testosterone"—which is true, right? (I personally believe there wouldn't be any wars if there weren't any men) she jumped all over them with a smart rebuttal. Her boyfriend couldn't even call her "adorable" or give her his shirt to wear without arising the debate of: is he marking his territory or does he respect her for her mind? These are good questions to ask, but the problem I have is, I did not buy that Frankie was in love with Matthew at all, even though the book said she was. The book also did not acknowledge any such thing as chemistry between them. Frankie was all sore that Matthew's buddies had higher status than she did with him; how DARE he put them before HER when she has been going out with him for THREE WHOLE MONTHS! OMG! Maybe another reason I didn't connect with Frankie was the brisk tone of the book. Her story was chronicled with a hip, journalistic brevity. My last thoughts: guys love to do guy things; what's wrong with that? They will play video games and watch sports till the end of time, and ignore their women while doing it. Frankie, ironically, seemed so needy. I thought Frankie went about making her point in the wrong way (she basically broke a lot of rules) and ultimately, it was about getting the attention of the boys.
Profile Image for Minli.
359 reviews
January 13, 2010
5 Things I liked about The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

1. The female protagonist does NOT spend it lamenting her appearance or lack of popularity/finesse. Nobody likes a sue, but some people actually are curvy, good-looking, confident, funny and smart--though of course they all have insecurities from time to time. But woo-hoo for being well-adjusted! Though we get a lot of Frankie's internal dialogue, she did not strike me as whiny. One of the best things I like about this book is that the protagonist is RATIONAL. She analyzes. She thinks! She debates!

2. Lockhart writes 'old school prep' in a way that's realistic (at least, as realistic as I can imagine, myself being on the fringes of that sort of society) and that doesn't make my eyes roll. Frankie seems very conscious of the prestige, wealth, networking and tradition that goes with a stuffy school like Alabaster. Popularity and entitlement are not wish-fulfilling fantasies, but essential elements that make up her world.

3. Frankie is by no means a perfect character. In fact, the flaws in the main characters are what makes the novel so fantastic: Frankie herself, Matthew, and Alpha, and to some lesser extent Elizabeth and Porter. My favourite supporting characters were probably Trish (the cookie baking feminist who is not ashamed of liking goofy guys who treat her nice and staying away from loud drunken parties) and Zada (Frankie's sister in her first year of college, who decided to go to Berkeley instead of Harvard, breaking their father's heart).

4. The story is set at a boarding school, with emphasis on school. There are lessons involved. Frankie learns things in classes that are later important to the plot. The schoolwork is interesting! I liked the musings on grammar, sociology/behaviour, surveillance and feminist studies.

5. The judicious use of the emails, notes, school papers and handwritten letters in the text. Some of the emails are laugh-out-loud funny, and the ones that aren't are interesting.

A fantastic read--if I liked to write, it would be the kind of book I wish I'd written. The only quibble I have with it is the ending, and that's just out of personal preference--I would have liked it to end on a more optimistic note, like perhaps at a Geek Conglomerate meeting where Frankie realises that there is more to Alabaster than the prestige/brotherhood of The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. And she knows it in her heart, but that scene with Matthew so many weeks later with Frankie still hurt over his cold rejection, just makes me shake. She's brilliant, and the book would have been more satisfying to me if the empowering part of the coda was longer.
Profile Image for Kristina Horner.
157 reviews1,822 followers
January 7, 2015
Gah, I loved this book so incredibly much, but upon finishing I find myself so RILED UP and ANGRY on Frankie's behalf and I understand her frustrations so fully. The feminist themes in this story were executed with grace and keen wit, and it never felt preachy. I just wanted to reach in the book and hug Frankie and let her know that some day, people on Tumblr would totally understand what she's going through. Her struggles were so real and I just enjoyed it so immensely. Highly recommend.
589 reviews1,029 followers
March 8, 2015
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

Reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks just goes to show that loving one book by an author doesn't guarantee you'll love every book by that said author. (I should know this after reading so many books but no, I am a person who never learns ._.) I read We Were Liars almost a year ago and well, let's just say it made my top 10 reads of 2014. (If you want to know why I loved it, I suggest you check out the discussion review/fangirling session Celine and I did.) Unfortunately for this book, there's no doubt it won't be landing my top 10 for 2015.
It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.

So apparently, this is a feminist book. I cannot remember who told me that it was, but I certainly went into this thinking it was going to be a pro-feminist read. Yet nope, I didn't see The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks as a feminist novel at all. We are introduced to Frankie as a strong-headed and determined girl who doesn't like being talked to condescendingly and hates taking 'no' for an answer. I wanted to love this girl, for she initially sounded like someone I can strongly identify with, but I soon was proved wrong--Frankie got less likeable more and more throughout the book. Here are the reasons why I was completely ticked off by her.

Frankie gets pretty irked when she discovers that there is a secretive all boys society which is known as the Basset Hounds. Her boyfriend, Matthew Livingstone, is apart of it too and what pisses her of more is that Matthew did not tell her about this society. Soon Frankie decides that she wants in on this all males society which, to me, sounded completely absurd in the first place. I mean really, the things that the boys do in this society is so freakin' lame. Anyways, Frankie soon starts stalking her boyfriend and decides that the only way she'll get into the Basset Hounds is to prove to the boys that she's way better than all of them. Which, didn't make any sense to me. If Frankie felt that she was better than the boys, why even bother dealing with in the first place?--they're not worth her time and efforts. And this leads me to my second complaint about Frankie. She was constantly trying to prove herself to Matthew and the other boys. When one of the boys said something to her (mainly Matthew), Frankie would analyse and go through all the possible responses then select the best one to reply with for the Matthew and the boys to respect her more. Essentially, this book was about Frankie who followed the boys around everywhere just so she could get their approval of her. Does that sound like a feminist novel to you?

No, I didn't think so.

And don't let me get started on how much the boys in this novel annoyed me. These boys don't recognise (or admit to recognise) a girl until she starts getting fat in the right places. HOW RIDICULOUS IS THAT?

What I did appreciate about this novel was Frankie's wit. She's a really smart girl, who just didn't put her efforts in the right places. I particularly liked Frankie's 'neglected positive' words and it was really entertaining to read about. Sure, her motives and ideas totally sucked, but there were a few positives about Frankie, and I'm not ready to just forget them despite how much I hated the plot line. 

In my opinion, E. Lockhart tried to achieve too much here. This is certainly not a feminist novel and so many characters here put me on edge and how obviously rude they were (namely, the boys--like Matthew Livingstone). I won't be recommending this book, so if you want to try E. Lockhart, I suggest you turn to a much better novel by her; We Were Liars

~Thank you Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me this copy~


Author 5 books44 followers
August 15, 2008
Frankie Landau-Banks does for the patriarchy what Little Brother does for homeland security. It's a guide for the uninitiated (Michel Foucault with training wheels!), a call to arms, and a manual for taking action against it.

It also has some great pranks in it.

Frankie is a sophomore at Alabaster, one of the nation's best preparatory schools, which is filled mostly with people who are white, protestant, and richer than God. Over the course of the summer she suddenly becomes hot, and catches the eye of Matthew Livingston, who is cute, and powerful, and rich, and funny.

He also happens to be one of the Kings of Alabaster's secret (and all-male) Loyal Order of Basset Hounds. Frankie knows, vaguely, about the Hounds - her father was one - but when she comes to realize that she'll always just be a girl in Matthew's social circle, there to be adorable but never powerful, always underestimated, always disposable, always erasable, she decides to mastermind the Basset Hounds' return to their former pranking glory.

It's icing on the cake if she can finally get some decent vegetables in the salad bar.

This doesn't do justice to how well Lockhart writes about the social order. I couldn't get into Tamora Pierce because she is writing about the overt, out-loud sexism to which I've never really been exposed. But I've lived through what Lockhart is talking about: the way you pretend it's interesting to watch your guy friends play video games because you don't want to be relegated to the role of that girl who bakes crumbles while her guy friends are playing video games. The way that you get subtly ignored and underestimated.

And what's cool is that for all it's such a feminist book, Frankie is allowed to read gossip magazines, and paint her nails, and basically - she's allowed to be stereotypically feminine AND bring down the patriarchy. I don't do stereotypical femininity very well, but that only has so much to do with feminism. It's NOT about the big power structures that Frankie goes up against. And Frankie is also allowed to be prideful, and insecure, and way too much in love for her own good, and that never undermines who she is as a criminal mastermind.

One of the year's best YA books.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,064 reviews1,473 followers
December 5, 2017
This book has aged so well. I am continually impressed with this author's compelling story-lines and unforgettable characters, and this book is no exception. Frankie's feminist ideologies and consistent challenging of the patriarchy made this book have continual resonance and relevance today. Definitely one of the thematically strongest contemporary stories I have read.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,127 reviews2,173 followers
August 22, 2012
Rating: 4.5 Stars

I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, especially since I found the first third of the novel to be excruciatingly boring and hard to get through, not to mention I hated the narration style with a passion. Yet, despite all that, Lockhart's novel truly spoke to me. It's marketed as being a feminist novel and while in some ways it definitely is, in more ways than one I feel as if it is simply a coming-of-age story about a girl who was discovering herself, what she wanted from life, and how she wanted to be perceived.

Frankie Landau-Banks attends Alabaster Prep Academy, the private institution which her older sister and father attended as well. Now a sophomore, Frankie has grown over the summer into a beautiful young girl from the once scrawny kid she used to be and consequently, has captured the attention of Matthew Livingston, the senior everyone wants to date. When Frankie and Matthew begin to go out, Frankie begins to notice that Matthew seems to keep secrets from her, thus, she stumbles upon an all-boys secret society and sets out to beat the boys at their own game, hoping to get Matthew to confess his secret doings to her in the process. What really happens though, is quite different, clever, and can only be described as genius! ;)

"Frankie looked into his face. He genuinely liked her, she knew. Maybe even loved her. He just loved her in a limited way.
Loved her best when she needed help.
Loved her best when he could set the boundaries and make the rules.
Loved her best when she was a smaller, younger person than he was, with no social power. When he could adore her for her youth and charm and protect her from the larger concerns of life." (Page 313)

In my opinion, The Disreputable History... is the perfect novel of this day and age. Not only is literature being bombarded with female protagonists who are distinctly weak and rely on men, but it is female authors who are creating characters like these. Thus, the character of Frankie, of a girl who wants to be known and loved for herself, for her potential, for her brilliance and not for her ability to listen to her boyfriend, do what he says, and agree with his every action, is startlingly refreshing. The Disreputable History... is a story of many things - secret all male societies, school pranks, and feminism - but at the heart of it all, it is the novel about the relationship between sophomore Frankie and her senior boyfriend, Matthew. You see, Frankie only infiltrates her boyfriend's secret society because she wants him to trust her, to see her as his equal, and to quit distinguishing her from others solely because of her gender. I think these are qualities that every woman should strive to achieve in a relationship - equality - but in some ways, I almost think Lockhart takes the character of Frankie a bit too far.

While I loved this novel, Lockhart portrays Frankie as a "type." She is the "type" of girl who has been underestimated all her life, who has been lied to so that the perpetrators lying to her can feel in power and who has simply been excluded from the close-knit friend circle of the Basset Hounds, the secret society, which she so desperately craves. Thus, because she is this "type," she becomes a feminist and resorts to standing up for herself. I liked this - I really did - but I didn't like how Lockhart categorizes Frankie into one type and other girls as another. I wish she had been able to find a balance because while I admire Frankie and hold her up on a pedestal for exposing the truths that every young woman should strive to attain, she almost goes too far. I guess my qualm with this can be summed up to be that Frankie is that feminist who refuses to let a man even hold a door open for her and what I really wished for this novel to be was about a teenager who found a balance between securing her rights and being willfully feminine and adored, but unfortunately that didn't happen. It isn't the fault of the novel, for it is impeccably written and gets its point across perfectly, it is simply my own fault as the reader.

Nevertheless, for all my adoration of this story, I can see why many people would be thrown off by it. I, on the other hand, was seemingly able to connect with Frankie due to my own life experiences - I fear that without them, I don't think I would have felt much of a draw to Frankie, which is another unfortunate fault of the narration. (I think the only time when I’ve enjoyed the type of narration where the narrator talks back to the reader in a seemingly cryptic way is Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, so if you’re not a fan of this style, this might be a little tough for you to get through.) You see, Frankie feels left out by this secret society her boyfriend attends and while it seems like a silly thing to get so worked up over, I actually understood Frankie perfectly! India, as you may or may not know, has a history of denying equal rights and freedom to women. Thankfully, this is changing in today’s society and women and men are treated equally; nevertheless, there did still remain a few restrictions in more traditional villages, as I learned upon visiting my grandfather’s home when I was merely twelve. While visiting the local temple near his home, which had a very powerful deity, I first became aware of the fact that my being a woman made me so drastically different from my younger brother. How? You see, my father and brother were permitted into the temple to an area where only the priest is allowed. When I went to follow them, I was denied because I was a girl. I know, it seems silly but it made such a marked difference on my life. When I questioned my father about it later, he said it was an old custom, but being a very old-fashioned man, he also added that it was a blessing to be born a girl as he did not have to pay a tax on me. This was the first time I was made aware that my father paid a tax for each member of his family and the money went to our family temple. Rather than placating me though, this only made me angrier as I was now so inconsequential that I wasn't even deemed worthy to be paid money for existing! (I later learned that the reason this was a good thing was because the money paid on behalf of my father and brother went to buying gifts for me, which obviously placated me immensely because that just meant MORE BOOKS, but by the time I learned this it was just a little bit too late for my inner-feminist to recede inside me.) Nevertheless, the point is, I was able to connect with Frankie simply because I had experienced injustice in my life merely for being born a woman. I think most people can relate to similar experiences in their life and thus will be able to connect with Frankie, but based solely on the narration, I would definitely find it difficult to understand where Frankie’s strong emotions stemmed from.

“A tiny part of her wanted to go over to him and shout, ‘I can feel like a hag some days if I want! And I can tell everybody how insecure I am if I want! Or I can be pretty and pretend to think I’m a hag out of fake modesty – I can do that if I want, too. Because you, Livingston, are not the boss of me and what kind of girl I become.’” (Page 79)

The Disreputable History... isn't a perfect book, but it is one I would recommend to everyone. It deserves to be read and the messages and themes it brings out are ones that every woman needs to understand. Furthermore, Frankie is such a strong, smart, and witty character than you cannot help but want to be her friend and give her a good ‘ol slap on the back for the pure brilliance of her ideas. While this novel definitely did have its fair share of flaws, I think the overall feeling of excitement, hope, and joy that it leaves with the reader, as well as some of the most memorable scenes ever, make this a truly phenomenal novel. It's a book that exudes such power and confidence and femininity that you walk away from it feeling so proud to be a woman. (Take that Bella Swan and Anastasia Steele and every other Mary Sue out there! HA!) In summary, The Disreputable History is just a story of how one girl takes down an all-male secret society and proves that girl power is awesome. Now, who doesn’t want to read a book like that? ;)

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
Profile Image for Clare.
1,460 reviews307 followers
May 26, 2014
Frankie is a 15-year-old knockout who graduated so recently from geeky girlhood that’s she’s still dusting its dirt from her clothes. With her newfound popularity comes a dawning ambition for power. She seeks recognition not just for her looks and smart comments, but for her superior intelligence and ability to do what she wants, even if the way is barred.

She became the girlfriend of idolised Matthew Livingstone by falling off her bike, prompting him to gallantly come to her aid. But she doesn’t want a ‘carer’ boyfriend, she wants him to recognise her for her real talents, and to treat her as an equal with whom he shares everything.

So naturally she’s outrageously jealous when she learns about his secret boys' society—a society which has been around since her father’s school days—and immediately looks for a way to go where no woman has gone before.

I haven’t read a book this full of attitude for a while. It’s so full you can feel it looking down its nose at you as you turn a page, ‘What? You're still here?’ But then it opens up again and shows you Frankie’s vulnerable side, like revealing all the trial comeback lines that are squashed before the intelligently winning quip comes out and scores a laugh. Or the moments of weakness when she wants to give up the power struggle and just seek love.

One can identify with Frankie; her motives are good, which makes it hard to write the book off as complete nonsense. She’s good looking and smart and funny, and she wants to be appreciated. But Matthew only wants her as a needy, comfortable, cute companion. Frankie knows that he respects his friends, he admires their courage and marvels at their brilliance, but he doesn't respect her in the same way. Something needs to be done.

Frankie believes the solution lies in power struggle: the struggle between herself and Matthew’s male friends for his time and attention. Sometimes she does it through her power as a girl: tantalising kisses on the cheek contradicted with hard-to-get reserve. Other times it's through her witty comments and carefully unselfconscious ways of showing off. Frankie's triumph, however, is in forging emails from the boys' club leader and surreptitiously directing their pranks without their knowledge. It's only a shame that no one realises it is her.

Once her secret is eventually found out, Frankie is shocked to discover she is not respected for her cleverness, but despised for her duplicity, and by Matthew especially.

Where did she go wrong?

The second-last paragraph of the book offers some insight:
“It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.

"She will not be simple and sweet. She will not be what people tell her she should be. That Bunny Rabbit is dead.”

The question is, is this the best path to happiness? Is loneliness better than sharing life with someone who doesn't entirely understand you? And, more importantly, must the path to happiness be a choice between power and impotence? Is there any other way to help others understand you? Could it be a good thing to follow if you freely choose to do so, and is having a line of followers the only proof of your worth?

True, it is usually better to speak up than stay silent, but if one only blows one's own trumpet, life will probably be lonely. It is also better to open doors than to shut them, but when you open them thinking only of yourself, they're likely to slam in the face of those behind you.

In refusing to be simple and sweet you assume that the simple and sweet are stupid and weak. Kindness for its own sake doesn't gain anything, unless it’s part of the greater power plan. And certainly don’t be what people say you should be, they are trying to dominate you and you’ll only be proved weak again.

It is true that seeking to appear cute and adorable is rather useless, but what’s wrong with developing real sensitivity of character, of trying to be a good friend? If this story is anything to go by, power doesn’t lead to happiness, but to bitter triumph. Yet it seems the book tries to harden you to its bitterness, to deaden your sensitivity, to make you believe that power is worthwhile in spite of the loneliness that surrounds it. I couldn’t agree less.

Profile Image for Sara.
1,406 reviews69 followers
January 8, 2009
Blah. Having heard so much good buzz about this book (and this author), I decided to check it out. Unfortunately, I couldn't even finish the book, and it makes me wonder why this book is on anyone's list of the best books of the year. The writing style irritated me, as it was trying overly hard to be cutesy and funny, with lots of paragraphs reading like, "She thought ____. Then ______. And then ____." Lame. Furthermore, I didn't even like any of the characters, and Frankie (the main character) was written as if she's supposed to be the smartest, wittiest kid around, and I just didn't get that. I tried to keep reading, since it is a short book, but I had to put it down after realizing that I just didn't care what happened. Don't think I'll be trying to read anything else by this author.
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews945 followers
May 12, 2020
Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Awhh, hell yeah.

High Points.
Everything about this book is a high point for me. We have girls kicking ass. We have posh public school. We have secret societies. We have the most amazing pranks IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. We have full on belly-laughter. We have full on heartbreak. And, most importantly, we have arrogant boys getting their just desserts. FIST PUMP.

Low Point.
I have only two low points about this book. The first being that I didn’t read this when I was in high school (all girls school… the career man got very confused when I told him I wanted to be a doctor… you could almost see the cogs in his mind try and process the thought while trying to stop him blurting out ‘B-b-but you’re a girl!’) And the second being that I can’t driving around the UK with a wagon full of piles of this book handing copies out to teenage girls everywhere and spread the word of Miss Landau-Banks. Because I’m guessing that would be frowned upon.

Frankie is possibly my favourite YA heroine, ever. Bold words, I know, but also true words. She is funny, resourceful, educated (but not snobby about it!) and she believes in herself. She is the figurehead for all the girls in the world who have been treated differently because they are of the female disposition. She refuses to take things lying down. She accepts responsibility for her actions when everyone else runs and hides (and is damn well proud of them, rightly so). She never sits around and whinges when she is treated unfairly…. Girl gets revenge. She comes up with the most hilarious and envy-inducing pranks that not only make me want to start a secret society but also run around dressing the statues of Manchester with Bravissimo bras. And she likes wordplay. HOW CAN YOU NOT ADORE HER?

Best friend/Sibling
I loved the interaction between Frankie and Trish, her best friend, and Zada, her sister. Even though both of these characters are on the peripheral, they are such strong women and really added to the whole message of the book. By knowing Trish and Zada, Frankie is surrounded by strong, knowledgeable females. It is obvious that they (and Lockhart herself) hasn’t just read a few feminist essays and then regurgitated its views into a YA book and hope that it will do.
This book knows what it’s talking about and you can feel the passion that Lockhart feels about feminism in its prose. I think a lot of feminism books and ideals are quite overwhelming and preachy (On all accounts do NOT let a male hold the door open for you because that means you are submissive and weak… come on!) but with The Disreputable History, Lockhart brings the message to an audience where understanding that girls are equal (but better at pranking *cough*) to boys is vital and does so without dumbing anything down, keeping it intelligent and thought-provoking, but also hilariously entertaining. The Ladies conversation? So hilarious.

Love Interest. Ugh, men.
I don’t even want to say that Matthew is a love interest, even though he technically is, to Frankie because… please… he doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence. What a poor excuse for a man. He literally made my blood boil and my notebook is filled with sentences like “Ughh, I hate men,” and “Misogynist so and so” and “STOP SAYING SHE IS BEING SENSITIVE FOR HAVING AN OPINION.”
Alpha was a much more interesting character and what I loved about him (apart from that he reminded me of Logan Echolls.. swoon.) was that even though his mind was made up of 50% caveman ‘Me-hunter gatherer, you- stand there look pretty’ thoughts, the other 50% was full of respect and admiration for Frankie and her actions.

Theme Tune(s).
OK, there are practically a billion songs I could go with for this. Shall I go for feminism? Or why men should never underestimate a woman? Or rebellion? Or the power of youth?

Or shall I go for the one that everyone was thinking about and proceeded to abuse the replay button on YouTube.
Yeah, I’ll go for that one.

Angst Scale.
I wanted to give this book a 5/10 because of the anger that coursed through my veins whenever Matthew and his stupid Superman t-shirt were ever mentioned. But then I remembered… Frankie Landau-Banks doesn’t give angst the time of day. So, in honour of her and her teachings, there is no angst scale.

Recommended for.
EVERYONE. People who have ever wondered what really goes on in a secret society. People who love pulling pranks. People who think drinking warm beer on a muddy golf course is laaaame. People who want to read a YA book that has a tough female protagonist who isn’t afraid to stand up for themselves. People who want to stick their middle finger up to the stifling establishment. People who love making up new words and trying to make them work. People who think it’s OK to ask a stranger for a lick of their frozen custard (what is that by the way? It sounds delicious!) People who have ever wanted to kick a boy in the crotch for being a small-minded, ill-educated, complete and utter *CENSORED* *mutters under breath*. Girls who wanted to be forces.
Profile Image for Megan.
418 reviews387 followers
June 23, 2011
How is it that this book so popular and well received? Frankie Landau-Banks is a bright, witty girl with issues. Lots and lots of issues which never get resolved let alone addressed. We meet her at the beginning of her sophomore year at the highly prestigious boarding school, Alabaster Preparatory Academy. In a moment that is clearly a blatant Three’s Company rip-off, Frankie is so distracted by the butt of her longtime crush, Matthew Livingston, that she falls from her bicycle. Matthew hears the crash and rushes to her aid, thus beginning Frankie’s transformation from a normal teenage girl into an Anita Blake in the making.

*shields ears from loud booing of Frankie fans who know what a wackjob Anita Blake is*

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks at first glance appears to be a cute girl power book. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. As I mentioned, Frankie has Issues. The main plot of this story revolves around Frankie attempting to infiltrate, control and overthrow the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, which is the secret all-male society that her boyfriend Matthew is a member of. However, so much more comes into play in this novel. A main subject of course is feminism. Frankie can’t stand the idea of a club that she is excluded from simply because of her gender. Although she justifies screwing with this club by expressing a desire to shake up societal norms…. she also wants to impress the guys.

So many times while hanging out with Matthew and his friends, Frankie laments that these guys never noticed her before she developed curves, or that if she and Matthew were to break up his friends wouldn’t continue a friendship with her. She takes extreme offense to Matthew’s best friend, Alpha, competing with her for Matthew’s attention. And while she occasionally thinks she lurves Matthew, she always feels patronized by him. Yeah he is super-hot, funny, charming and a good kisser but he never really listens to her or makes her feel appreciated or needed in the way she wants, needs and expects to be.

So does Frankie:
Form her own super-secret all girl society?
Have a heart to heart and angsty talk with her best friend or older sister about all the reasons why her relationship with Matthew isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
Talk with Matthew honestly and openly?
Act like a 15 year old girl and rag Matthew about spending so much time with his friends?

None of the above. She spies on Matthew. She covertly infiltrates his secret club. She surreptitiously becomes a better Basset Hound than any Basset Hound member in recent years, yet is depressed that Matthew does not guess that she is behind everything. Frankie, while spouting feminist ideals, is motivated by attracting the attention of and impressing the guys. In this singular pursuit, Frankie alienates and withholds secrets from her best (and only close) friend. She passes up social activities she used to enjoy in favor of Matthew. She mopes when she has to spend an entire Thanksgiving weekend away from Matthew.

It’s all about Matthew.

I’m hesitant to point out the fact that Frankie becomes crazy obsessed with Matthew’s participation with the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds after only a week or two of dating, because I do remember those high school days when one month was a long term relationship. Even so, Frankie is competing for Matthew’s affections against guys who have been close friends with him for years. It’s a lost battle from the start. My concern with this novel isn’t that Frankie freaks out a little bit and becomes a slightly psycho girlfriend. It’s that she is clearly written to be a role model for girls everywhere.

Frankie is not pursuing feminist ideals or notions. She is simply an emotionally immature little girl who is feeling excluded. Forcing people to see you or respect you is not being a feminist. Your boyfriend calling you, “sweet”, “pretty” or “adorable” isn’t chauvinistic. And a group of guys participating in a decades old all-male secret society isn’t (necessarily) discriminating. Frankie’s pissing contest with the guys, her abrasiveness, her reading so many thoughts, actions and hidden meanings into the simplest word a person utters doesn’t make her a strong positive female role model. It makes her Anita Blake. Like Anita, Frankie is obsessed with power. How to get it, who has it, who wants it. Everything is a power struggle to her. And like Anita, Frankie doesn’t give a shit what others think (although she really and truly does care what the guys think).

”Frankie appreciated both the accolades and the rejections equally, because both meant she’d had an impact. She wasn’t a person who needed to be liked so much as she was a person who liked to be notorious.”

Shortly before starting The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, I finished Dairy Queen. That was an amazing feminist book. Protagonist D.J.Schwenk makes a gender defying move to go out for her high school football team. Unlike Anita Frankie, she doesn’t have something to prove. She simply enjoys playing football and is good at it… so why not? Frankie, for all of her smarts, simply hasn’t learned the lesson that sometimes people don’t like you. Sometimes you can’t be a part of the group. Sometimes a guy is always going to choose his friend over his girl. The phrase, “You can’t change another person’s behavior but you can change your reaction to it” is a lesson that would serve Frankie well.

Unfortunately as the novel ended Frankie had not learned a lesson or changed her ways. Frankie’s mother and sister insist she see a counselor who helps her to,

”explore her “aggression” and to work on channeling her impulses into more socially appropriate activities. The counselor suggested competitive team sports as a positive outlet, and pushed Frankie to join the girls’ filed hockey team.
That was not a productive solution.
It was the girls’ team.
Boys didn’t even play field hockey.
Boys thought nothing of field hockey.
Frankie was not interested in playing a sport that was rated as nothing by the more powerful half of the population.”

Frankie would be a great contest on Survivor

I would love to see E. Lockhart write a book about Frankie in her twenties. When she grows up to be a smart, independent young woman who has calmed down since her high school days and takes into consideration the following:
Power, feminism and respect don’t always involve defying social order and expectations.
By trying so very hard to permeate the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, Frankie gave the group so much more power than if she would have simply ignored their existence.
Men and women have differences and that is okay.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,049 followers
August 13, 2019

Sleek, smart, artistic and yet very subtle, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a very entertaining, very funny YA boarding school story that takes up pranks and secret societies to a whole new level and in the process rightfully condemning patriarchy and proudly raising the flag of feminists.

I enjoyed the use of word play so much, the neglected positives. I thought they were really funny. I was very much “turbed” with the writing because I was definitely not “perturbed.” Lol.
But really, I think the plot is very clever, something you don’t read every day. Frankie who brilliantly found a way to infiltrate and manipulate the members of this all-male secret society called “The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds” by making them do all her bidding to instigate pranks against the Alabaster’s (this used-to-be-all-boys-elite-prep-school) mostly patriarchal culture and symbolisms.

The literary references are quite impressive. I think this book can be a really good resource for a post-grad study on literature, language or even philosophy. Don’t know why it took me this long to read another book by Ms. Lockhart since I read We Were Liars but after this, I am definitely going to look into her other books.
Profile Image for reading is my hustle.
1,508 reviews298 followers
June 15, 2014
Excellent read about a sassy, smart, and fearless young woman who is determined to be more than arm candy and uses her shrewd intellect to outsmart the boys. Part grrrl power, part social commentary, AND equal parts wicked fun.

This is one of those books that I wish schools would use as part of the curriculum instead of Lord of the Flies. Reading about Frankie subverting the power structure of an elite boarding is MUCH more interesting.

Essay question:

What does it mean that once Frankie's crimes are revealed that it has little to do with her actions and more to do with her gender?


***Updated 06/12/14***

link(s) about latest book ::

We Were Liars



Profile Image for rachel.
772 reviews150 followers
January 24, 2015
I think I should flag myself here and now from reading any more teen books that are rumored to have "feminist" messages, short of sci-fi/fantasy girl survivalist sorts of books. Because the pressures of real life teen girlhood seem too complex to yield a fully realized heterosexual, cisgendered, and feminist heroine who happens to still be in high school. Horomones are raging too strong. Boys matter too much at that age and, in the interest of honesty, even after it too.

Frankie Landau-Banks is not your usual YA main character, which means she's good-looking, fairly well off, undamaged, and not cruel. She's starting her sophomore year at an elite private high school, where, having blossomed into this pretty, smart girl over the summer, she's quickly snatched up by the boy of her dreams, popular senior Matthew Livingston. He's a little condescending and wants more to protect her and show her off than to treat her as a capable, intelligent person of her own. Frankie doesn't like it, but she likes the way she feels being on Matthew's arm. When she finds that he's a member of a secret society of pranksters -- the cream of the crop club at the school, and membership is boys only -- she gets mad. Like all famous spitfires in history, Frankie comes up with a plan to get even.

Let's start with the good: the book is well written. Lockhart writes in a sweeping, textured, whimsical third person omniscient style that sort of emulates all of the kids lit classics (Peter Pan, The Secret Garden immediately came to my mind). When you read a book that's written in this way and is well done too, you can't help but feel that you are reading about An Important Person, even if the story is a little less than satisfying.

That said, the problems I had with this book are as follows:

1.) I like highly intelligent female main characters. Lockhart apparently does too, since she keeps reminding us over and over (and over) again that Frankie is beautiful and basically a teenage prodigy. To me, her demonstrated intelligence actually seems more like savviness -- which is a form of being smart, but "smart" and "savvy" are not synonymous. So the repetition of her ~*~*superior*~*~ intelligence without it actually being demonstrated bothered me in the way that all Mary Sues bother me.

2.) Frankie does what she does to subvert the order of the Good Old Boys. That's what Lockhart tells us. But Lockhart also tells us that Frankie wants the boys to be impressed by her, keeps reminding us that she personally likes the boys even though she wants to teach them a lesson. This is a nice look at the conflicting desires of a teenage girl in her budding feminism, but I don't think Frankie is meant to be as complex a character. I think she's meant to be a heroine. At the end of the book, Lockhart gives us this speech about how a girl like Frankie will change the world. I can't help but think that wanting the approval of the boys along the way as she does, wanting personal recognition and inclusion by the boys (rather than starting a group of her own) will continue to be a hindrance. Frankie's spunky, but she's not the undaunted, righteous Sister Suffragette I sorta hoped she'd be.

3.) Even more problematic than Frankie wanting to win the admiration of the boys she likes as a "feminist character" is her relationship to other girls in the story. She thinks that the girl her ex-boyfriend cheats on her with is plain, a trade in of her "model" for "another model who's not that great". Frankie gets to know another sophomore girl who's dating a senior boy, and this girl is characterized as way too dense to be real, an obvious foil for that intellect of Frankie's. And she actually calls the secret society's "alpha dog" character's girlfriend "the She-Wolf," for how the girl doggedly follows her boyfriend around. Surely we can have a feminist character who doesn't condescendingly disparage other women in the process?

But I don't know. Because again, I think maybe it's unreasonable for me to expect a 15 year old girl in the beginning stages of feminism to be fully realized. She's not as mean about these other girls as she could be at that age. She's not totally subservient to the boys, and at least makes an effort to reject their hold on her in favor of a little empowerment. It's a step up AND IT'S TEEN FICTION, YES, but I kept thinking "you've got a long way, baby."
Profile Image for Maddie.
557 reviews1,150 followers
August 13, 2017
Frankie Landau-Banks was such a breath of fresh air. I absolutely loved her character and how she questioned literally everything about how boys and girls are treated in relationships and the real world. I was living for the boarding school secret society shenanigans and how Frankie was holding a middle finger up to the patriarchy but in such a brilliant and untraceable way.

Every girl, teenage or otherwise, needs to get their hands on this book and enjoy witnessing a man's world get turned upside down by the most interesting female character I've read about yet. (Thank you so much to Lauren James and all the people that agreed with her for recommending this book!)
Profile Image for Virginia.
63 reviews
October 23, 2008
A story about a weak chick whose world revolves around what guys want her to do.
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,010 reviews4,151 followers
February 17, 2015
This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

Feminism is an important topic, especially for those who unknowingly reinforce these gender stereotypes without realising how it impacts societal attitudes. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks features a character who believes she is feminist, but this is not a feminist book.

Frankie Landau-Banks annoyed me to no end. She’s obsessed with her crush, Matthew, and is delighted when he starts taking an interest in her. Despite being several years younger, she loves to run with her assumptions that he only sees her as a “cute, pleasant and beautiful young girl”. When she discovers his involvement in the male society of the Basset-Hounds, her behaviour becomes increasingly fixated, immature and obsessive. She wants to prove that she’s good enough to be a part of it, even though it’s historically been an order of males.

A healthy individual would either form her own female club, empower other females, or talk to Matthew about her concerns, but instead she stalks the guys for the entire book and plans on infiltrating their club. Why anyone would want to be part of a male exclusive club who plays pranks and swims around naked is only my guess. But it’s clear Frankie has some sort of inferiority complex for being born a woman.

Although there are some healthy topics and discussions of feminism, Frankie is annoyingly loud-mouthed, opinionated and righteous person who would go off at anyone who she perceives as anti-feminist. Some of these things, like alpha males wanting to protect women, could be right. But others, like Matthew and the boys not including her in the plans of the Basset-Hounds, aren’t so much and it was annoying when Frankie would spout off about being excluded. Her use of negative positive wording such as “gruntled” instead of “disgruntled” in normal conversation reinforces her superiority to everyone. I didn’t like Frankie and thought she had a whole heap of issues and I craved for them to be addressed in a healthy way.

Having read and loved We Were Liars, I was surprised at how different The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was. It features long-winded, dry and dull writing, and is primarily about a teenage girl who feels insecure amongst men. Frankie is the type of person I would stay far away from and the book could have addressed feminism in a more meaningful manner. It does contain some good topics of discussion though, but the way it was executed just wasn’t for me.

Thank you to Allen and Unwin Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Carla.
295 reviews69 followers
August 12, 2010
I have a confession. I did what bloggers are not supposed to do. I googled the book and read bad reviews of this book. *gasp* I know, sue me. See the thing is, no one has ever recommended this book to me, I've never heard anyone talking about this book or telling me why I needed to read it. Stuff like this makes me curious, because I know people know who E Lockhart is, and I know a lot of people love the Ruby Oliver series. So why the radio silence on this book. Was it that it this book was so horrid and would damage my corneas by just reading the filth of the pages, or was it that this book was quite possibly so amazing, they didn't want anyone else to discover it, like they were hatching some plan to keep Frankie under wraps so they could keep her all to themsleves. Or maybe, I was so woefully, ignorantly out of the loop through my own fault.

I would like to start the shennanigans by stating that Frankie Landau-Banks might just be one of my favourite heronies. Not only is she so kick ass she could probably knock the karate kid down a notch, but she makes up words for fun. For fun. Now, most of you don't know me personally, but making up words is one of my favourite past times, like pretending to be able to speak forgein languages and dancing in front of the mirror with my remote. Plus, she is this crazy insane mastermind, I even think if she put her immensely clever mind to it, she could probably plot world domination and not even get caught. I can't even steal glances at people without getting caught.

So Frankie goes to this ultra posh boarding school also known as Albaster Prep School, this year she is hot and seems to have grown quite an impressive rack over the summer, which of course means that when she goes back to school as a Sophomore, she is the prime piece of arm candy for the hottest guy in school. The hottest guy in school is also called Matthew, though, Alpha was most definately my favourite. 1, he was blond, 2, he was actually cleverer than he let on, and disguised intelligance makes me feel kind of sweaty. Him and his friends are part of this secret society called The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, not that Frankie is supposed to know about this, but go with it, (she's like a spy with fashion sense!) Not only does Matthew not tell Frankie about his secret boys only club, but her tries to start bossing her around, which does not go down well with Frankie.

Now, any other girl would just accept that her boyfriend had this boy club and not actually care that she was never invited to join or let into the camerarderie of it all, which even she admits, is the thing she cares about most of all. Not Frankie. Sick and tired of feeling underestimated and unworthy, all because she owns a pair of boobs, Frankie fights back. I will say it now, girl power is one of the best kinds of power. Sticking it to the Man, she infiltrates the group, masquerading as one of their own and commands them to pull a series of well thought out, insanely clever pranks. Shes like a puppet master pulling their little boy strings and making them do whatever she asks, without them even knowing it was her. If that is not pure love rolled up into a mastermind sneaky troublesome feminist, then I dont know what is.

My favourite thing was that although she loved hanging with Matthew and his friends, Frankie was never scared of saying what she thought, she wouldn't fade into the shadows of their exclusivity, she was her own person dammit and she wanted them to see her for the person she was, rather the person she was with. Social order could suck it as far as Frankie was concerned, who cared that the club had been only open to males since it originated, wasn't this the 21st century, where women were now classed as equals to men. They had the right to vote, so why not the right to join some crummy club a bunch of grodie boys were running into the ground.

Conformity is never something i've been comfortable with, I don't like to be told what to do and I hate being undermined by people. Its rude and unneccesary, so when Frankie basically give them all the finger and was like "screw you, i'm going to do what I want, and none of you nimwits can stop me, because i've got more brains in my big toe than you've got in that delicious head of yours" (shes talking to Alpha or Matthew here I suspect) I nearly broke out the awesome dance. Like, if I could've put the book down for one second, the dance would've been danced. This book made me question everything, it made me realise that young adult literature needs more fiesty kick ass girls, girls who can outsmart boys headed to Harvard.

This is a book that makes me happy I read YA, it was witty, intelligent, and a genius new spin on feminisim and how fighting back against the social order is something each and everyone of us should try sometime, even if its some lame ass unspoken rule. So next time i'm on the bus i'm going to talk to myself and not care that people think i'm crazy, i'll just be sticking it to the Man. Brilliant, one of the best books i've read this year.
Profile Image for Becky.
5,409 reviews122 followers
November 24, 2008
I may get a few boos for this one. But I couldn't quite like it*. Blame it on the tense. Third person past tense (as far as I can reckon). Or blame it on the expostulating tone, purposefully pretentious and off-putting. A blend of intelligence and condescension. It's not like every page was of this style, but there were little asides by the narrator--I suppose it's the narrator--that just intruded in on the story. Created too much distance for my taste. Added in too much reflection.

How does a person become the person she is? What are the factors in her culture, her childhood, her education, her religion, her economic stature, her sexual orientation, her race, her everyday interactions--what stimuli lead her to make choices other people will despise her for?
This chronicle is an attempt to mark out the contributing elements in Frankie Landau-Banks's character. What led her to do what she did: things she would later view with a curious mixture of hubris and regret. Frankie's mental processes had been stimulated by Ms. Jensson's lectures on the panopticon , her encounters with Alpha, her mother's refusal to let her walk into town on the Jersey Shore, her observation of the joy Matthew took in rescuing her from her bicycle accident, and her anger at Dean for not remembering her. All these were factors in what happened next... (107)

I do like several things about it however. I just have a love-hate relationship with the narrative style. There are paragraphs that I love, and there are paragraphs that I hate. Phrases that I think are a bit too much, and phrases that I think are just right. I like how the first chapter begins, for example, "Though not, in hindsight, so startling as the misdeeds she would perpetrate when she returned to boarding school as a sophomore, what happened to Frankie Landau-Banks the summer after her freshman year was a shock." I think both the prologue and the first few chapters offer quite a hook or incentive to readers.

Frankie is a boarding school student whose sophomore year presents great opportunities for adventure and misadventure. She'll experience the ups and downs of having a relationship with a "popular" boy, a real somebody. Rich too. Her old friendships will be threatened by the aforementioned relationship and all that brings about. Frankie is smart. She's determined. She's got her own way of seeing the world. And none of those things are bad. All quite good actually.

It's not Frankie that I dislike but the meddling narrator who likes to tell instead of show.

*I'll qualify this statement. Based on the all the buzz, the hype, I couldn't "like" it as much as I "should". See, this is one that has been getting love all over the place. People saying it's the best of the best, one of the year's must-reads. A book people are just raving about. I didn't think it was that good, that deserving. But it's a good read. A solid read. I wouldn't put this one in my top ten of the year. I probably wouldn't even have it in the top twenty. But it is a good book all the same. In other words, I've read dozens and dozens that I disliked more than this one.

This is neither here nor there. But one of the things I found unbelievable was that Frankie's sister, Zada, took her under her wing. Zada's a senior. Frankie was a freshman. She let Frankie sit with her and her junior and senior friends at lunch. She allowed Frankie to tag along with her. To be a part of her "cool" set of friends. I have a hard time believing that even a good sister would do this. I shared two years of school with my sister, we overlapped two years I mean, and never once would I have been encouraged/allowed to sit with her at lunch. To hang out with her friends at school. It was one thing to be allowed to tag along after school (on occasion) or at home.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,164 reviews639 followers
May 9, 2009
I was definitely 'gruntled' when I read this book *you'll have to read the story to understand what that means* :) There are several reasons why I'm giving this book 5 stars (1) I'd definitely read this story over again, (2) I have no hesitation recommending it to others and (3) the storyline is original and very well written. I truly enjoyed this book from beginning to end.

Frankie Landau-Banks, the main character, attends Alabaster Academy, a widely-known boarding school for the kids of influential and wealthy families. In her sophomore year, she meets Matthew Livingston, who is a senior and part of a secret organization of the academy known as the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Unfortunately, Frankie resents the exclusive boy's club and starts to use her creativity, ambition and intelligence to insert herself in an organization not meant for girls by pulling the strings and master-mining pranks no one knows she's responsible for. Along the way, you see Frankie stop every now and again to contemplate her actions and fight for change is needed.

This book is flawlessly crafted, the dialog is perfectly balanced between witty, funny and heartfelt, the characters are flawed yet extremely likable, the setting is unique and the storyline is original. The icing on the cake for me would be an epilogue that offered some insight into Frankie's life 2 years after the event. Great story a MUST read.
Profile Image for Cristina.
513 reviews391 followers
December 29, 2018
I loved Frankie!
This story is about a girl who changes her attitude, turning into a mastermind. Even tho nobody knew that she was the author of all the things that were happening at Alabaster, in the end her efforts were recognized and she had nothing to lose. She became a strong girl who proved that girls have great ideas too. And that they should never be seen inferior to guys. 👍
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