Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E. Lockhart is not your average YA read. Sure, there’s romance, quirky characters and you can relate to parts of it. But the book begins, rather than ends with Frankie catching the eye of Mathew Livingston, the “big man” of Alabaster Preparatory School. Frankie, who has acquired curves and tamed her frizzy hair over the summer is finally noticed by Mathew Livingston, who she has been crushing on for a long time. When she’s with Mathew, she also gets acquainted with his group of friends who are privileged, fun loving and members of a secret society called The Loyal Order of The Basset Hounds which has existed in Alabaster Prep since the 1950s.

Whether it’s that she’s the “bunny rabbit” of her family or that Mathew treats her like she’s someone to be taken care of OR that she has just taken a class called Cities, Art and Protest, she is spurred to infiltrate the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, which has always been an all-men society. Shaking their organization by impersonating the Bassett King and collecting information about them, she ends up controlling them and the direction of the pranks of the Bassets.


I had been putting off reading The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks for a whole summer. Why? I don’t know. Despite the amazing reviews it had gotten, the plot seemed too vague to really make an impression on me. That was a mistake I shouldn’t have made. Because I found The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks to be BRILLIANT. Let’s look at why,

1. FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS. What a masterpiece of a heroine! I loved her quirkiness, her need to prove herself and love for “imaginary neglected positives” (like petuous, from impetuous and dulgent, from indulgent). Oh, and that she reads P. G. Wodehouse, which spurred her love for imaginary neglected positives. I LOVE P. G. Wodehouse. His novels are like desert!

There is also a vulnerability to her, that’s odd when paired with her brains, ambition and determination but is nevertheless there. On the whole, these things made her likeable and towards the end, you, along with the detached narrator, are sure to believe that Frankie is destined to change the world.

I love boarding school stories! They remind me of Harry Potter and the Enid Blyton’s which makes me happy! Alabaster Prep, a swanky prep school in the same league as Andover and Exeter is described by Frankie’s father, an alumnus of the school and the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, as a school that will help you get connected and set you for life. Through the bonds fostered by the pranks, midnight wanderings and parties, of course.

3. THE PRESENT DAY BASSETS. Frankie says that along with Mathew Livingston, she kind of fell in love with the group of boys he hangs out with as well. They are a bit silly, elitist and have a knack for not remembering anyone who’s not in their group but also have clever conversations and their antics make her (and us) laugh. We end up falling in love with these boys as well, despite their exclusivity and self centeredness and in a way, BECAUSE of their exclusivity and self centeredness.

4. GIRL POWER! The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is all about feminism and girl power! Frankie is prone to being underestimated and coddled in the “patriarchal institution” that is Alabaster Prep (which was previously all-boys) as well as in her own family. When everybody finally sees what she can do, most of them shun her, while the same stunts provoked admiration and hero-worship when believed to be carried out by a boy.

“Why did you do that, Frankie?” asked Porter. “I mean, it was brilliant, what you did, what you made us do- but why would you bother? That’s what I can’t figure out.”

Frankie sighed. “Have you ever heard of the panopticon?” she asked him.

Porter shook his head.

“Have you ever been in love?”

He shook his head again.

“Then I can’t explain it,” Frankie said.

(p. 326/327)
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a book, the crux of which is centered on the result of crushing on one of those hotshot boys everyone wants to be as well as the desire to prove oneself, to be more than just arm candy. It is more than just another Young Adult romance. It is about a fifteen year old girl who dares to step out of the box, cross the line and in the process, opens our minds and makes us introspect, laugh and want to be her friend. Best. Book. Ever.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars xD

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HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)