Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-BanksTitle: The Desreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Author: E. Lockheart
ISBN: 0786838183
Pages: 352 pages
Publisher/Date: Hyperion Books, c2008.

“I, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind the mal-doings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. I take full responsibility for the disruptions caused by the Order-including the Library Lady, the Doggies in the Window, the Night of a Thousand Dogs, the Canned Beet Rebellion, and the abduction of the Guppy. (1)

Frankie Landau-Banks was a nobody her freshman year at a prestigious boarding school where her father and older sister graduated from. Sophomore year brings a whole new experience when she begins to date one of the most popular seniors and is invited into his inner circle. But Frankie soon comes to suspect that her boyfriend is hiding something not only from her, but from the rest of the school. Frankie is determined to find out and become involved in the secrecy.

I found myself reading portions of this book aloud to my boyfriend, to his amusement. Whether he was amused at my obvious enthusiasm or the scene itself, I’m not entirely sure. Some might not have found the humor, such Frankie attempting to create words such as “gruntled” (the opposite of disgruntled), but geeks like myself will be delighted. While I personally enjoyed the social commentary wrapped into the plot line, it does bog down the story in some spots. But Frankie, and the rest of the characters’ conversations, are authentic. Her fears about being appreciated for who she is, her drive to be remembered — especially after it’s proved that she isn’t, and her struggle to distinguish herself from what she would probably deem the majority while still secretly wishing to infiltrate it. These are all things that readers can relate to. The introduction of the panopticon (a key ingredient in the plot) is succinct, and lends itself well to analyzing and understanding Frankie’s behavior. I can see Frankie becoming part of a TNT drama, with all the intrigue and secrecy, and trickster’s will draw inspiration from her “practical jokes” that provide commentary on society. Truly a deep novel that will both disturb, delight and haunt readers.

EDIT: AUGUST 31, 2009
Ok, I’m gloating just a little bit. Nancy Pearl included this book in her August Pearl’s Picks, and I’m pleasantly pleased that I “got a jump” on the infamous librarian and blogged it first. Since I can’t find a website that archives all the Nancy Pearl’s Picks, I’m including the entire text below for future reference. If I’m unintentionally disobeying copywrite laws, please let me know and I’ll remove it post haste:

Lockhart, E.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks: A Novel
Publisher: Hyperion
Pub Date: 03/25/2008
ISBN-13: 9780786838189
ISBN-10: 0786838183
E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is not only one of the most enjoyable teen novels that I’ve read in a long time, but it’s also one of smartest. It’s intelligently written, with a cast of well-drawn characters; it has an intelligent and witty narrative voice; and Lockhart has created an original and thought-provoking plot that carries a serious message along with its good humor. (This would be a terrific choice for mother-daughter book groups.) Twelve- to 15-year-old girls looking for a relationship novel that’s neither sappy, angst-y, nor a fantasy need search no further: here it is. Frankie starts her sophomore year at Alabaster Prep a changed young woman from the geeky freshman she was just a few months ago. When she starts going out with handsome Matthew–the senior boy who’s the catch of the campus–she’s pretty sure she’s left all remnants of the old nerdy Frankie behind. But when she learns that Matthew is the president of an all-male secret society of juniors and seniors at the school called “The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds,” her immense annoyance at being excluded simply because she’s female leads her to come up with a brilliantly inventive (if perhaps slightly illegal) scheme to get back at the club members. But I think the caper-filled plot–entertaining as it is–is Lockhart’s method to get us interested in knowing Frankie, who is pure and simply a delight. She’s a fan of P.G. Wodehouse, she loves words (I can foresee a lot of engaged readers playing with the notion of “neglected positives” (if being disgruntled means you’re not happy about something, why not use gruntled when you are?) and she’s not afraid to either ask questions or challenge accepted norms. I wish I had been exactly like her when I was 15.

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