Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Mock Printz: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hyperion
ISBN: 978-0-7868-3818-9
Starred review in: Kirkus, PW, nominated to BBYA

This is my favorite for the Mock Printz to date. From my blog:

The Plot: All her life, Frankie Landau-Banks has been labeled as someone to be protected, her family's Bunny Rabbit, someone who is in need of sage advice and wise words. She's sick of it. Frankie, ace debater and ultimate Frisbee enthusiast, wants people to see her for her greatest talent, which is manipulating people (not in a bad way). She has a keen eye for social structure and an analytical mind, and she uses these talents to infiltrate an all-boys secret society at her school, of which her boyfriend Matthew is a member. Assuming the identity of the society's leader, Alpha, she gets the boys to pull some amazing stunts. In four months Frankie goes from unknown to girlfriend of the popular guy to secret campus puppet master to simultaneously revered and reviled by her classmates.

Why you'll love it: Like Frankie, there is much to this book beneath the surface. At first glance, it's a book about a girl, tired of being pigeonholed as sweet and innocent, who masterminds one of the unsweetest, uninnocentest series of pranks her prestigious boarding school has ever seen. One way to see it would be that it's a book about breaking from the shell of expectations that everyone else has built around you. The reader knows from the beginning that Frankie is dissatisfied with the way people see her and she wants to make herself noticed for being something other than Zada Landau-Banks's little sister. The way I see it, it's a book about belonging. Matthew's way of belonging is to not rock the boat too much with his friends. Alpha's way of belonging is to draw everyone to him with his supreme confidence and irreverence. Frankie does what she does because she needs to belong and needs to be recognized as a leader in the groups to which she belongs. The book has a very Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler feeling to it, in which an outside narrator with wisdom and omniscience tells the story of Frankie's social journey. The use of point of view can usually make or break a book for me, and just like I hold up Invisible and Inexcusable as examples of how to use first person, I will be holding this book up as an example of how to use third person. The peripheral characters are both fantastic and completely believable. Lockhart's use of both esoteric and witty-yet-confused teenage language gives the book a refined edge. This is a definite candidate for this year's Printz and I hope the committee doesn't overlook it.

4 comments:

BookWyrm said...

Disreputable History is up at the top of my list as well. I will quible about Frankie though. I don't think that she starts out believing that she's god at manipulating people, in fact she falls into that almost by accident. She simply wants to be recognised as someone who is powerful and should be respected.

I loved Lockhart's attack on the Old Boys attitude and club. If you go into this book looking for it to be about a girl pranking the guys, you'll miss a TON and you'll also probably be disappointed. Most of the stuff with the secret society and pranks don't even happen until the second half of the book. The first half is all about Frankie and how she thinks. Lockhart does an incredible job of playing with the english language and even left me with a lost of books and a new author I want to go check out.

This is not a book to miss!

Kate said...

The Disreputable History is on the top of my list for sure. I was blown away by this book, because in the end it was not what I was expecting.
I originally thought this book was going to be about a girl challenging the regime and the status quo. When you read the synopsis, you feel that she's questioning the whole Secret Society regulations and it's exclusion of women. Instead it was about Frankie wanting to be recognized; which in the end flipped the whole aspect of the book around for me.
I agree with Carlie that Lockhart's wit makes this book a wonderful literary choice. This book is definately a contender.

Danielle said...

Top of the list, most definitely. Frankie (both the book and character) was clever. While the pranks were inspiring and very amusing, the main point was Frankie-- wanting to be recognized for herself (not as Zada's sister, Matthew's sophomore "adorable" girlfriend, her father's female legacy or *shudders* "Bunny Rabbit"). Frankie refusing to be underestimated, her drive and intelligence were also obvious plus points. And Carlie is right about the refined language. Combined with that sarcasm it completely lent itself to mocking the "Old Boys".

Jen B. said...

I agree that at first I thought it was going to be about changing the Old Boys into Old Boys+feminist girl. Frankie's sister Zara wanted her to keep the status quo, along with her family, Matthew, etc. every one doubted her and in the end she proved herself and Disreputable History definately left me "gruntled". :)