Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart

A review by Nalini Haynes

Frankie’s family call her ‘Bunny Rabbit’ and discount her abilities. Starting sophomore year at high school, she discovers her new height and curves get her noticed, including by her long-time crush, where she’d been ignored the previous year. However, Frankie isn’t the type of girl to be happy being arm-candy; she wants to be part of the fun.

Frankie’s dad was a Basset Hound, part of a secret boys’ society at her school, Alabaster Preparatory Academy, when he attended. Now Frankie finds her boyfriend is a member but he won’t confide in her. So Frankie hatches a diabolical scheme…

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks begins with Frankie’s letter of apology, written after the events described therein. Thus I was hooked: I wanted to know what Frankie did and how. Throughout the book there are passages that I must describe as exposition and yet they were compelling reading; I’m not sure if it was the voice, the tone or the style but these passages are just as compelling as the action.

Frankie is a master strategist, critiquing society, the social order in school and the battle of the sexes. OMG, I wish I’d had this book when I was in high school. And I wish I could have given it to my own daughter. As a feminist critique, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is excellent. As a YA novel, it’s entertaining. As both combined, it’s a must-have for every teenage girl and a good read for both sexes of all ages.

Go. Read. It will only take a few hours — until the urge to re-read strikes. I’m not sure which is more compelling: the urge to re-read or the urge to read some of the texts cited within Frankie’s Disreputable History. P G Wodehouse has been on my ‘to read’ list for ages — last time I tried to find some in a bookstore, they didn’t have any in stock — but after Frankie’s ebullient recommendation of Wodehouse, I find he’s climbed up the ladder.

John Green says E Lockhart is “one of our most important novelists”.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781760113308
Format: paperback, 352 pages
Imprint: A & U Children (Allen & Unwin); previously published in the US by Disney Hyperion
Awards: Commended, Michael L Printz Award Honor Book, 2008
Commended, National Book Award, 2008
Winner, Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Novel, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks: text with a picture of a school inset