Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks--E. Lockhart (Book Review)

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banksis one of the titles I'm reading as part of the 2009 Mock Printz Awards. As I started reading, I was immediately struck by the narrative voice. This is not your usual YA style. Here, we have a third-person narrator who is sympathetic to Frankie, but decidedly not Frankie, and whose tone is far more adult than the usual oh-so-hip voice of the YA novel:
Though not, in hindsight, so startling as the misdeeds she would perpetrate when she returned to boarding school as a sophomore, what happened to Frankie Landau-Banks the summer after her freshman year was a shock….She grew into her angular face, filled out her figure, and transformed from a homely child into a loaded potato--all while sitting quietly in a suburban hammock, reading the short stories of Dorothy Parker and drinking lemonade.
I wondered whether this voice would resonate with teen readers. As I delved deeper into the tale of Frankie's sophomore year at boarding school, I decided I didn't care what the teen readers thought of the narrator--I was having too good of a time to worry about that. Lockheart was making me think, using the school's steeped-in-tradition secret club, the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds, as an allegory for the male-dominated social network that resounds in the adult world of business and politics. Frankie's father's continual bond with the powerful buddies he did pranks and smoked pot with in high school, is a prediction of the future waiting for Frankie's boyfriend Matthew--a future that's only available to Frankie if and when Matthew (or another member of the good-ole-boys club) chooses to include her. Frankie resolves not to accept this imbalance of power, and her investigation and eventual infiltration of the secret club makes for a delightful read with a real message for men and women, as well as teens.

So, did the story resonate with those teens? A quick survey shows that, at least among the avid readers who make up teen book bloggers, it did. Still, I can't help but wish this book had been marketed to an adult audience--not because it isn't appropriate for teens, but because it's a shame that many adults will miss out on this highly entertaining analysis of our culture's subtle undermining of women who dare to enter the world of men.

You can find E. Lockhart at or at her blog, entitled, oddly enough E. Lockhart's Blog.

The soundtrack: "Sisters are Doing it For Themselves," sung by Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics. I thought this song was sort of outdated when we were listening to it in the eighties. After reading this book, I'm not so sure that's true.

No comments:

Post a Comment