Author: E. Lockhart
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Buy the book on Amazon.
Buy the book on Amazon.
This book isn’t fantasy or dystopia. It doesn’t introduce any cool new creatures, feature a supernatural love triangle, or give the main character an awesome destiny. And yet, I’ve never seen anything quite like this done in contemporary YA before. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a simple story on the surface: a girl takes control of the all-male secret society at her swanky boarding school. Who that girl is, however, takes this book and turns it into something great. Disreputable History isn’t just one of the best novels I’ve read this year – it’s probably one of my favorite books, ever.
Frankie Landau-Banks is a fantastic main character. Witty, sarcastic, and incredibly smart, her narration draws the reader in from the very first page. In fact, the more you find out about her, the harder it is not to root for her. One of the best things about Frankie’s character is that the author starts out playing on the trope of a typical contemporary heroine.
Over the summer between freshman and sophomore year, Frankie has gone from invisible to beautiful. By the end of the first week of school, Matthew Livingston, the unofficial king of the senior class, has asked her out. Although this seems like the plot of a bad TV movie, the author makes it work, giving just enough hints in Frankie’s narration to show that this romance is not what the story’s really about. Sure enough, as soon as the relationship with Matthew and Frankie starts to blossom, the real focus of the story becomes clear.
Frankie is a student at Alabaster Prep School, the type of swanky boarding school where everyone’s parents own companies and students are conditioned to believe that they are future world leaders – especially if they’re boys. The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, a semi-serious secret society on campus that Frankie’s new boyfriend just happens to lead, is a representation of the school’s depressingly chauvinistic attitude. This clique of boys rule the school, and even those who don’t like it, accept it. Frankie, however, hates that no one takes her seriously – not her parents, not her friends, and certainly not her boyfriend. So when she sees an opportunity to hack into the Order of the Basset Hounds and seize control, she takes it – with successful, hilarious, and inevitably painful results.
The overall message of the book is simple, but incredibly effective. In fact, the last few scenes of the novel will stay with me for quite a while. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave you with this: If I ran the world, every girl would be required to read this book.