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The Disreputable History of Frankie…

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (edition 2008)

by E. Lockhart

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2,1121563,109 (4.01)76
snozzberry's review
Best novel I've read all year, hands down.

I immediately fell in love with the quirky, gutsy Frankie Landau-Banks. (But in a platonic, you're-a-fictional-character way, I assure you.)

Frankie is the kind of girl I wish I'd had the guts to be in high school. Not that my school had a secret society to flout (although, given the money in that town maybe it did). But Frankie is about as self-assured as you can get as a teenage girl nowadays. Plus, she's wicked smart and can debate like the dickens.

Ladies: Read this book, even if you "don't read kids' books." Pshaw. If you have an inner girl who kicks ass, she'll love this book. Don't deny her the joy of reading this.

Guys: I can't pretend to know whether a book like this would strike your fancy, but I'd love to find out. So if you read it, report back here!

Everyone: If you know a girl around Frankie's age, give her this book for Christmas or her next birthday or just because (which is the best kind of present anyway). ( )
1 vote snozzberry | Nov 13, 2008 |
All member reviews
Showing 1-25 of 158 (next | show all)
"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."

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is an intelligent, witty story of a contemporary teenage girl's determined rebellion against the expectations of those that surround her.

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

This novel has a definite message. Alabaster Prep School is a microcosm of wider society, and within it, Lockhart explores some major issues including social order, the hierarchy of power and gender inequality. Frankie is determined to challenge the status quo by surreptitiously taking charge of The Loyal Order of the Basset Hound - the all male secret society on campus, and giving the pranks she devises a politically motivated agenda. Frankie's motives aren't entirely pure though, and inevitably neither do things go exactly to plan.

I liked Frankie, she's smart and feisty though she also has her flaws, but it's the contradictions in her actions and her thought processes that makes her so interesting, and I think is probably the point of the whole novel. Frankie may be slightly more self aware than many teen girls but she hasn't yet got everything figured out. Like most girls, Frankie struggles with her desire to be true to herself and her wish to fit in. This is particularly an issue in her relationship with the handsome, wealthy and charming Senior, Matthew Livingston. Frankie is delighted by his attention, proud to be chosen by him, even when she realises that he isn't really interested in what she wants or thinks.

"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."

Despite the serious themes, the overall tone of the novel is lighthearted. The narrative is often witty and the story is well paced.

I enjoyed The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, it's a thought provoking novel that, from my perspective, explores some interesting contradictions. I've passed it on to my teen daughter and I'm eager to see what she thinks. ( )
  shelleyraec | Jan 30, 2015 |
First read in 2008
Re-read in 2012 ( )
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
This is to feminism what Nickelback is to music: not.
( )
  humblewomble | Oct 19, 2014 |
Recommended by my lovely friend Katharine.
  AmphipodGirl | Oct 14, 2014 |
I absolutely loved this book!

Not only are the characters and plot exceptionally well written, but E. Lockhart manages to avoid the expected conclusion for most books in this field. Once you read enough books in a certain genre, your mind cannot help but jump towards any played-out ending that most authors insist on sticking to. My mind did that as I read Disreputable History, but I was pleasantly surprised by Lockhart's ending.

I also like the theories explored by Frankie in this book, the panopticon and the various clubs devoted to creative disruptions. Makes me want to plan some pranks or flash mobs. ( )
  regularguy5mb | Jul 27, 2014 |
ARGH! I am really conflicted about this book. Up until the conclusion, I was really enjoying it, but I am struggling with its attempt at a sociological message.

I love that Frankie is a smart, strong girl who speaks up for herself and has clearly defined interests. I was like that as a teenager, EXCEPT when it came to boys, and then I turned into a "whatever you want" girl. Looking back, I was miserable, and I wish I could go back now and teach my young self a thing or two. If I could make myself have read this book as a teenager and learned from it to, for gosh sakes, *be myself* around boys, I'd be really happy. And I would gladly pass this along to my daughter with the same hopes, EXCEPT:

I Hate (with a capital H) when women take on the position that choosing to do traditionally "feminine" things, particularly having tried the alternative and finding that being "girly" is what one prefers, is somehow an invalid feminist choice. Wrong. Feminism simply means we insist upon the ability to make those choices, the same way men do, and it embraces them all. If a girl prefers to (paraphrasing here) "stay home and make crumbles instead of stand around with stupid boys drinking beer on a cold, dark golf course," well, can you blame her? And yet, an undercurrent of shame and derision for such choices runs throughout the book, equating them with lack of intelligence or, more subtly, courage or integrity. Shame on you, Ms. Lockhart. For shame.

More reviews at fefferbooks.com! ( )
1 vote fefferbooks | May 12, 2014 |
Spoilers alert!
This book is great because it is a book that describes a girl who doesn't really fit in. But she has a criminal mastermind that only she can use to get in all sorts of trouble. I would recommend this book to an older and mature audience that likes a mystery and suspence with a twist. I think this is a great book because it involves an underdog who will obtain a secret identity to go behind her boyfriends back and run a secret society of teenage boys. I really liked the way that this book was written, she has a unique style of writing suspense into her books. I could never really expect anything because it was all mysterious and very well thought out.

This story stars out with Frankie being in her second year of high school and trying to make friends. She falls off her bike and just like that, she is helped up by one of the most popular boys at the school. It was as easy as falling off her bike... Then she is 'inducted' into the group of all his friends, they are very secretive about their Secret Society of Bassets, which is a club for only boys to pull pranks at school. Frankie followed them one night to find out what is really going on and when she does, she wants in. So she creates a false identity of one of the Bassets and starts organizing some serious pranks like they have never done before. Before she knows it, she is getting in all sorts of trouble. Frankie gets one of the Bassets suspended under false suspicion and she looses trust of most of her friends. Suddenly this doesn't look like a good idea after all. Frankie writes a letter of apology to the school board, simply putting that she is responsive for all of the pranks and that the Bassets did not get forced into doing any of it, they did it under their own free will.
  GemmaF.B4 | Mar 16, 2014 |
There are things I liked about The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and things I didn't.

Overall, I really enjoy E. Lockhart’s writing style. She writes intelligently and and cleverly. It’s clear she has issues to discuss, which for many authors can turn a novel into a thinly veiled soapbox speech. Yet Lockhart manages to blend the topics she wants to address with teenage-relevant stories you can actually believe. I love the self-aware quality of her narration, and I love how Frankie plays with language (neglected positives, anyone?).

The thing I didn't like? The ending. Or rather, one specific aspect of the ending. I won't say more here. Full thoughts on Erin Reads. ( )
  erelsi183 | Dec 13, 2013 |
Frankie, a fifteen year old geek transforms her sophomore year at boarding school to become a lanky beauty and the girlfriend of one of the most popular guys in school. She is now drawn into the circle of popular seniors, but still isn’t within the inner circle. Through humor, pranks, and a lot of brainstorming, Frankie becomes her old self times ten becoming the criminal mastermind she was meant to be. Great for text-to-text and text-to-self connections based on stereotyping, bullying, self-identity, self-acceptance etc.; writing prompts; character analysis; point of view; exploration of the feminist perspective etc. ( )
  Backus2 | Nov 30, 2013 |
Recently, on Twitter, I asked my feed for recommendations of books involving teenagers making a difference in the world and I was recommended this book. Let me get this out of the way right now: this is the kind of book the five-star rating was made for. This book is one of the best books I have ever read. Period. It's about Frankie, a 15-year-old girl who attends Alabaster, an exclusive prep school. It is about that. But then again, it's about every single one of those words: it's about Frankie as a person, it's about the fact that she's 15, it's about the fact that she's a girl and it's about the fact that she attends an exclusive prep school, with all the elitism that contains.
This is the book I would put in the hands of my 15-year-old self were I allowed to meet her once more, because it would help me figure things out, things I now know but would have benefited from knowing back then, too.
So, Frankie has grown over the summer and now, suddenly, Matthew Livingstone, a boy she'd had a crush on for years and years, notices her. He notices when she falls off her bike and comes and rescues her. Frankie is pleased, but part of her wonders whether he'd still be interested in her if she didn't need rescuing. Part of her wonders if he'd still be interested in her if she spoke her mind. If she rebelled. If she outsmarted him. If, in short, she proved to be herself and not live up to his expectations.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is an insanely smart book about gender with a riveting plot, crushing conclusions and well-written, complex characters. It would be hard quoting every single passage I adored, but here are a few:

Frankie is grateful to have such a loyal friend, but it does not escape her notice that Trish's lack of understanding is a condition of that loyalty. Were Trish to fully comprehend the way Frankie thinks, the subjects she ponders all the time when she appears to be quietly doing her homework - Frankie's anger and hunger - she would pull away. To Trish, Frankie is still the ordinary girl with gerbils at home in a Habitail, only now more melancholy and in need of cheering up, due to the second bad boyfriend in a row.

She hoped, she hoped he would understand. That he would appreciate her the way he appreciated Alpha. Admire her cleverness, her ambition, her vision. That he would admit her as his equal, or even as his superior, and love her for what she was capable of.

'Why is it psychotic if I did it and genius if Alpha did it?' wailed Frankie. 'That's so unfair. It's a double standard.'

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows: 'You have some balls'. Frankie hated that expression, ever since Zada had pointed out to her that it equates courage with the male equipment.'

You know what this book does? This book is an answer to 'why do we need feminism today, anyway?' Frankie lives in today's world and she faces misogyny everywhere she goes. It's insidious, it's tiny tiny words and attitudes, but it's there. There's an amazing scene in which she breaks a rule nobody ever realized was a rule because of tradition and familiarity 'we've always done this without questioning it so why do different' and I feel this scene was a symbol of the whole book. Throughout the book, we see Frankie stand up to instances of misogyny nobody seems to realize exist. This book shows you why we need feminism today. In one of the first passages of the book, Frankie wants to go out for a walk and her mother forbids her. Frankie is annoyed and asks, 'if I were a boy, would you let me go?' I think this book explores that - how far people let you go when you're a girl, and how far when you're a boy, and what that means. It's also a wonderfully effective example that gender is constructed, because even when they have the exact same abilities, a boy and a girl won't be treated the same, and Frankie proves that in the best way possible.

It's also a book about prep school, elitism, ambition, connections, networks and friendship, and ultimately, it's also very much a book about nepotism. I thought the setting of Alabaster allowed the author to explore all that through Frankie and for having been through it myself, at least partly, it was good to have an honest look at this world and what is inherently wrong with it. People hire people they know or who've been recommended to them by people they know, they interview people they know, they do services to people they know and those are the people in charge. The end was bitter-sweet in that respect, because I expected Frankie to make a different choice, but I do understand her decision too.

Frankie is an indelible character, she's one of the best heroines I've ever encountered in literature and I feel so lucky to have found this book, which I think deserves to be even more well-known. Had I known how good it was going to be, how I would want to read it again as soon as I'd finished it, I would have picked it up way sooner. Don't make the same mistake, buy The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks now, it's an outstanding book you'll remember for a long, long time.

( )
  RubyScarlett | Nov 11, 2013 |
Such a witty and fun read!

Frankie is a great lead and, for once, we get a female lead who's actually flawed!
( )
  joanasimao | Sep 28, 2013 |
I've read this book twice now, and I think the second time is even better because you can focus more on the message rather than Frankie's amusing hijinks. Truly, I think this book should be required reading so more people, boys and girls alike, can read this modern feminist perspective. This book showed me some unfair, sort of sexist things that we mostly ignore in today's society. After reading it, I wanted to get up and fight the status quo like Frankie does. This book is fun, smart, and has an outstanding message. ( )
  IAmChrysanthemum | Jun 8, 2013 |
A YA book set at a prestigious private mixed-gender boarding school in the US. It was fun and I enjoyed how angry Frankie was, but it did seem a bit unrealistic and elitist in ways I can't quite put my finger on. ( )
  tronella | Jun 1, 2013 |
I had to go back and read this after loving the Ruby Oliver books. It was really good. Incredibly well thought-out with complex characters. I gave it 4 stars only because there were no "take-aways" for me. It was great while it lasted, but I doubt I'll ever think of it again. ( )
  heike6 | May 2, 2013 |
This is to feminism what Nickelback is to music: not.
( )
  heterocephalusglaber | Apr 26, 2013 |
This book was both unbelievable and heartbreakingly realistic, a combination that created what is now one of my favorite books. Frankie, as described, is not only brilliant she is precocious, making believable 15 year old observations and carrying them through to phenomenal conclusions. She's my hero, she's the teenager I remember being and the woman I wish I had become. This book casts a clear eye on both protagonist and her opposition, giving voice to the conflict of an outsider with more nuance and detail than I've ever read before. ( )
  Capnrandm | Apr 15, 2013 |
When the dorky geek Frankie transforms to a lanky beauty for her sophomore year at Alabaster prep she is drawn into the circle of popular seniors but not into the inner circle. An insightful, witty look into the world of the privileged with action, mystery, humor and pathos. ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
I liked Dramarama better, but this is also an engaging book. The premise is a little thin (I could never really embrace the reasons given for Frankie's behaviour) but the execution is admirable. The characters are sympathetic and believable, and I liked them. Worth a read, for sure. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
I read it in a day. I found the main female character complex, interesting and strong. Frankie is one tough chick. I was really taken with the humor of the story but also the issues it raised about gender relationships and social norms. The ominiscent observer perspective was also well done gave depth to the story. Great, great read! ( )
  akmargie | Apr 4, 2013 |
by E. Lockhart (and [HERE])

I've begun the last two reviews with the character's name. I am determined to break the pattern. So:

P.G. Wodehouse? Check. Basset hounds? Check.* Secret societies? Check. Devious plans? Check.

This book has all of those, plus a spunky main character with a great vocabulary and the inability to take no for an answer.

And yet, somehow, I don't LOVE it. It's fun. I'm reading it for a second time, so clearly it isn't awful. I think most of my problem is that I never quite believe in Frankie as a real character. I feel bad for her and I rejoice at her victories. But she never quite jumps off the page.

Now, I know there are heaps and heaps of people** who love this book. And I do enjoy it. And yet.

I don't know. I may need to give it a few days to percolate.

Book source: my school library

*Incidentally, basset hounds always remind me of James Thurber, probably because I was a docent at the Thurber House for several years when I was younger.

**People whose recommendations I trust. ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
by E. Lockhart (and [HERE])

I've begun the last two reviews with the character's name. I am determined to break the pattern. So:

P.G. Wodehouse? Check. Basset hounds? Check.* Secret societies? Check. Devious plans? Check.

This book has all of those, plus a spunky main character with a great vocabulary and the inability to take no for an answer.

And yet, somehow, I don't LOVE it. It's fun. I'm reading it for a second time, so clearly it isn't awful. I think most of my problem is that I never quite believe in Frankie as a real character. I feel bad for her and I rejoice at her victories. But she never quite jumps off the page.

Now, I know there are heaps and heaps of people** who love this book. And I do enjoy it. And yet.

I don't know. I may need to give it a few days to percolate.

Book source: my school library

*Incidentally, basset hounds always remind me of James Thurber, probably because I was a docent at the Thurber House for several years when I was younger.

**People whose recommendations I trust. ( )
  | Apr 4, 2013 | edit |
Listened to the audio, which was pretty good, weird pronunciation of "carrel" aside.

Frankie is a great character: as a sophomore at Alabaster Prep, she has been underestimated by just about everyone, and finally takes action to earn the respect she deserves. She's a go-it-alone type who resents the fact that her boyfriend Matthew, a senior and one of the leaders of the secret, males-only club Bassett Hounds, won't confide in her; however, she is guilty of the same secrecy by not confiding in her loyal roommate and friend Trish. Frankie is so focused on her goal of gaining equal status with the senior boys that she underestimates her own peers - girls who, it seems, often understand the meaning of her pranks better than the boys do.

Not that this is unrealistic; Frankie makes the kind of mistakes that teenagers make. This is an entertaining and amusing read. Additionally, Frankie's ideas about the Panopticon should resonate with anyone who has ever been in a school setting. ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Listened to audiobook narrated by Tanya Eby Sirois. Loved the narration. A fascinating exploration of the social and gender dynamics at an East Coast boarding school. The word play was excellent fun and Frankie is a character I won't be forgetting anytime soon.

April 2012 COTC Book Club selection.

Previously read print copy September 2010. ( )
  JenJ. | Mar 31, 2013 |
Frankie Landau-Banks is starting her sophomore year at the elite Alabaster Academy, and has somehow garnered the attention of Big-Man-On-Campus Matthew Livingston. But while most girls would die to be Matthew's arm candy, Frankie would rather be something more than just his girlfriend. When he starts giving vague answers regarding his whereabouts and plans, Frankie does the logical thing: she researches and investigates. When she finds out that Matthew and his friends are part of the elusive Order of the Basset Hounds, and that the Bassets are having some trouble getting organized for a Halloween prank, Frankie sees her opening to finally make an impact from the marginalized shadows. Frankie is smart, strong, bold--and not someone to be underestimated.

As a plot, this is a novel of espionage and accomplishment; as a message, it’s about Girl Power and budding feminism. The Disreputable History shows how some teens can flawlessly implement every phase of a perfect plan and still lack the maturity to accomplish their political agendas. Frankie’s desire to have her cleverness noticed and remarked upon--often at odds with her need for secrecy--may frustrate some readers but will resonate with others. Frankie is a strong, independent role model despite her social gaffes; this is a novel that will find its way into the hands of teens seeking confirmation that there’s no reason to stay in someone else’s shadow. ( )
  librarybrandy | Mar 31, 2013 |
When I first started The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, I thought that the clever banter was a little to forced and found it a little distracting, but I quickly adjusted and really enjoyed the story. Frankie is kick-butt, and it was nice to read about a feminist character set it in the present time with the problems of today instead of decades or centuries ago. I've also been a serious victim of the panopticon and worried about getting into trouble or what people would think. The pranks were fun, and I wish this book had been around about 10 years ago for me. ( )
  alwright1 | Mar 31, 2013 |
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