Review Blog

Aug 31 2009

The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

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Hyperion, 2009. ISBN 978-0786838196
(Age 14+) Recommended. Frankie Landau-Banks suddenly finds herself in the limelight at her exclusive boarding school. She manages to attract the attention of a popular boy Matthew and as his girlfriend finds that she has been elevated from obscurity and now belongs to the 'in' group. However she discovers that girls are not treated the same way as boys are in the group and in particular they are excluded from the secret society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. When she finds The Disreputable History, the long lost manual of the club, she decides that she will grab some of the power that has previously belonged just to the boys. Using a fake e-mail address, she directs the activities of the club, getting the members to do audacious pranks until her plotting is discovered.
Frankie is a girl who is determined not to be ignored, and refuses to be relegated into doing 'female' activities. She thinks that coming up with wonderful practical jokes and getting the old boys' club to carry out her instructions will give her power and gain respect, but finds to her dismay that discrimination is deeply embedded in society. Whilst determined to prove herself an equal with the boys, she doesn't realise that she herself is fitting into a mould by waiting around for Matthew when he dumps her for Basset meetings, and still hoping that after everything goes haywire, he will be there for her.
A feature of the book that stood out for me was the humorous wordplays and the literary allusions to Wodehouse. Frankie had lots of fun making up words and meanings and this added a richness to the story telling and gave insights into Frankie's intelligence and personality.
Lockhart explores feminism, discrimination, peer pressure and the networks that give power in this complex, funny and witty exploration of one girl's attempt to be in the right group with the right cute boyfriend.
Pat Pledger

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