Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, E. Lockhart

Have y’all ever seen the film Serendipity? I mean it’s not that great. I’m fond of Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack, and I still recognize that this film just isn’t that great. The premise is, they meet once, they have a great date, but Kate Beckinsale wants to leave it to chance whether they meet again. Chance doesn’t work out for them. A few years later, John Cusack’s about to get married or something, and he goes on a mission to track down Kate Beckinsale because she’s the one that got away. He really wants to find her but they keep just missing each other and eventually they find each other and live happily ever after which is sort of a spoiler but not really because it’s a romantic comedy even if not a very good one.

I have known about Frankie Landau-Banks for a while, and I felt it would surely be the perfect book for me. But we just kept missing each other! Ana reviewed it and my library never had it in when I visited. My mother got it on PaperbackSwap (allegedly), yet I never saw it at our house when I was there. I got it for my aunt for her birthday, but because she’s not one of the people I feel okay about reading their presents before giving them to them, I didn’t read it first. For those of you following at home, I am John Cusack in this analogy, and The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks is Kate Beckinsale. Except that I am not about to spend the rest of my life with only one book and if I were, I wouldn’t blow whatever it was off for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. It isn’t that good an analogy. I’m not really sure why I opened with that. Let’s move past it, shall we?

Frankie Landau-Banks is entering her sophomore year at college prep boarding school Alabaster. Over the summer she has come true all at once, with the curves and the hair and all the other things that make sophomore girls irresistible to senior guys. Senior Matthew Thornton duly notices her, and they start dating, which is great as far as Frankie’s concerned. But as much as she enjoys dating him, she cannot help noticing certain things about their relationship: that she hangs out with his friends, not he with hers; that she is not necessarily welcome to spend time with his friends independent of him; that he gently and affectionately teases and belittles her, and expects her to behave (as a girl) in a certain way. Most annoying of all is his habit of blowing her off to spend time with his friend Alpha — which, as Frankie gradually realizes, actually means spending time with the school’s secret, all-male society.

Determined to make her mark (to prove herself indelible), Frankie infiltrates the secret society and organizes secret acts of naughtiness around the school. Some of them are just for fun, and some are making genuine comments on the way the school is run. We know at the beginning of the book that Frankie will eventually be caught, so it’s all a question of — what kind of changes is she making to the school, and to her relationship, and to herself?

I liked it that Lockhart doesn’t let Frankie make any of the easy choices. Frankie decides that she is worthy of notice, and sets about proving it. She likes being part of a pair with Matthew Thornton, and wants to maintain that. She just wants them both to know that the two of them stand on equal footing, rather than being Matthew’s subsidiary on account of her age and gender. If this occasionally gets a bit heavy-handed, it’s more than okay with me because I enjoyed Frankie so much. I’ve read several reviews where people said they didn’t necessarily like her, but I really did! I thought she was great! I wish she could age a few years (oh my God, I got really depressed just now thinking of how many years she’d have to age), move to New York, and be my friend. Hooray!

Everyone on my blogroll (practically) has read this book, so I’ll just direct you, once more, to the Book Blogs Search Engine.