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The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks Paperback – August 25, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—Over the course of one summer, Frankie Landau-Banks, a somewhat geeky girl with an unassuming nature, has developed into a 15-year-old with an attention-grabbing figure, a new attitude, and sights set on making changes at her elite boarding school in this novel (Hyperion, 2008) by W. Lockhart. The teenager also has a new boyfriend, a gorgeous senior who belongs to a long-standing secret society on campus—The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, known mostly for silly pranks and a history of male-only membership. With a witty, sharp, and intelligently scheming mind, Frankie manipulates the Loyal Order to do her bidding with pranks meant to make a political statement about the male-dominated and classist nature of the school. Tanya Eby Sirois adequately voices the characters. Frankie's personality is portrayed most effectively; some of the slang and the attitudes of the male characters feel forced. Telephone calls are relayed using special effects that are mostly convincing, and the segments that are told via emails are well conveyed and perfectly paced. Listeners will feel that they are a part of the teen's disreputable and humorous history. An overall fun listen that the author's fans are sure to enjoy.—Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
*Starred Review* In the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, Frankie Landau-Banks transforms from “a scrawny, awkward child” with frizzy hair to a curvy beauty, “all while sitting quietly in a suburban hammock, reading the short stories of Dorothy Parker and drinking lemonade.” On her return to Alabaster Prep, her elite boarding school, she attracts the attention of gorgeous Matthew, who draws her into his circle of popular seniors. Then Frankie learns that Matthew is a member of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, an all-male Alabaster secret society to which Frankie’s dad had once belonged. Excluded from belonging to or even discussing the Bassets, Frankie engineers her own guerilla membership by assuming a false online identity. Frankie is a fan of P. G. Wodehouse’s books, and Lockhart’s wholly engaging narrative, filled with wordplay, often reads like a clever satire about the capers of the entitled, interwoven with elements of a mystery. But the story’s expertly timed comedy also has deep undercurrents. Lockhart creates a unique, indelible character in Frankie, whose oddities only make her more realistic, and teens will be galvanized by her brazen action and her passionate, immediate questions about gender and power, individuals and institutions, and how to fall in love without losing herself. Grades 7-12. --Gillian Engberg --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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A lot of reviewers have dissed the narration of this book, with a sort of unnamed narrator telling the story of how Frankie shook things up in her sophomore year of high school, but I really enjoyed it. It felt so very confessional and conversational having a third party tell the story, and I thoroughly enjoyed that broken fourth wall feel of the narration.
As for Frankie, she’s by all means not perfect. She comes across as a bit brash and entitled at times, but her heart is in the right place and her drive and ambition make her really relatable. Who hasn’t wanted to shake things up a bit to fight against the patriarchy and perceived slight? In this book, Frankie does just that, and her eventual fall into obsession with her cause is a fun ride.
This book is a wild ride, featuring secret societies, gender politics, and a lead character that is just plain sick of feeling left out. It is both highly political and wildly funny. With hijinks that could only happen away at boarding school and a delicious sense of revenge, readers will love Frankie Landau-Banks and her endless drive to come out on top.
I learned about this book from a podcast book reviewer who raved about it. It started a bit slowly but quickly pulled you into the life of young Frankie. This is a must-read!
NOTE: There are some references to kissing, underage drinking, and a prank involving undergarments, but there is a message in the story that makes sense. If you are, however, squeamish about exposing your daughter to it, read it first. You might decide it is all right - or you can skip anything that offends you. But these are small things...I just don't want you to be surprised, as I hate hearing a great book recommendation that ends up to be more filled with cursing and sex than actual plot.
But Frankie's still only on the edge of things. She'll never be admitted to the Bassets, the school's all-male secret society. As a girl and one of the few Jewish kids in maybe the WASPiest prep school in America, she'll never be part of the future old-boy's network. Even if she's smarter and a better organizer.
Frankie doesn't like being excluded. She's going to do something about that and shake up the school's administration and patriarchy in the process.
She might get expelled. She might lose her boyfriend and entire circle of friends. What she will not do, after masterminding the mind-bending pranks of the Fish Liberation Army, is go quietly.
A subversive, moving romp about risking what you have for what they won't let you be, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a twisting tale of tweaking the powerful and privileged by one who refuses to stay in her place. A great read, and one that stays with you.