BOOK REVIEW: THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS BY E. LOCKHART



Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:

Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.




No spoilers ahead.



I read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by accident. Or, rather, I started it by accident. It sounds like an impossibility, but here's how it happens:
1. You have a splitting headache.
2. You forego the book you'd intended to read out of the fear of associating it with physical pain.
3. You scroll through your Kindle to find something else.
4. You mean to turn the page while scrolling, but accidentally open a random title.
5. The "Why have I not read this sooner?" conundrum ensues.
6. Pretty soon, you no longer have a headache.
7. (Painkillers were involved, but I like to think the contents of this book played a significant part, too.)

Not that The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is the kind of book one ought to pick up with the intention of allowing their mind to wander. It demands attention - sometimes covertly and sometimes aggressively so. I always maintain that all my opinions are my own, and nothing I say holds true for everyone, but in the spirit of Frankie Landau-Banks, I am about to break a rule. If you have read this book and never once paused to think about any of the issues it raises, you have done something wrong. But these are qualitatively different issues to ones E. Lockhart tackles in her other popular work - We Were Liars, or The Boyfriend List. And this was what had me intrigued.

When Frankie Landau-Banks finds herself a part of the in crowd at the elite prep school she attends for the second year running, she is both flattered and disgruntled. On one hand, she is dating her dream guy, she has doors opened for her that were previously firmly shut, and she is a little bit in love with the whole group dynamic of her new friends. On the other hand, the new boyfriend is keeping secrets, the aforementioned doors aren't so much opened for her to enter as they are held open because of her gender, and the new group may just be a secret society. But Frankie Landau-Banks is a girl. So Frankie Landau-Banks is not invited.

And not all her attempts to show herself as equal to the guys will ever get her through that particular door. Or will they?

With wit and humor, and a good dose of social critique to boot, E. Lockhart brings to the forefront the battle for equality girls and women wage in a surreptitiously and sometimes openly patriarchal society. As Frankie strives to beat the all-male secret society on campus at their own game, so must she face the dawning understanding that she would never even be suspected for all the mischievous wrongdoings the boys perpetrate. Privately, she is the mastermind, publicly she is an adorable girl. Privately, she is the equal, publicly she is the Bunny Rabbit. Privately, she is the one with the biggest guts, publicly she is the arm candy to a popular boy to the school.

Alongside the commentary on the gender differences (or the lack thereof), in the overall group dynamics there is also a duality with implications just as broad - the rich and the poor. The haves and the have nots. Though not as prominent as in We Were Liars, the elite prep school setting in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks naturally brings forth the issues of financial security and social standing. Those who have deep pockets and influential figures for parents are allowed to stir up trouble. Those who aren't as fortunate would do better to rethink it.

And maybe, just maybe - that is not the definition of fortunate at all.





Here's the very best thing about versatile authors: they can surprise you even when you think you've got them figured out. So if you have encountered any of E. Lockhart's work in the past, whether you enjoyed it or not, rest assured - each of her other books/series offers something new. So whether you loved or hated We Were Liars, whether you loved or hated The Boyfriend List, my vote is still firmly on giving The Disreputable History a read. If you have ever felt undervalued or underestimated in any sphere of life, however briefly, then there is no reason in the world why you shouldn't. And if you're firmly ensconced in your current roles in life, chances are still excellent that you might find yourself relating to these characters. Do it for us sconced. Give it a chance.


And once you have, please let us know what you thought! We love comments (a little too much). We also love messages on social media. So have your pick - contact us however you like and let us know.



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BOOK REVIEW: THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS BY E. LOCKHART
4/ 5
Oleh

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