September 24, 2009

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

Frankie LandauFrankie Landau-Banks was once a slightly geeky, neither popular nor unpopular freshman at Alabaster Preparatory, a boarding school where most kids are some kind of rich and educational standards are high.

In the summer between freshman and sophomore years, Frankie undergoes a transformation, turning from an okay-looking girl into a curvy beauty that draws eyes, and meets a random guy on a boardwalk in the Jersey Shore some days before the start of her sophomore year.

Once back in Alabaster, Frankie is finally noticed by her crush, Mathew Livingston, a popular senior boy and they begin dating. She also meets Mathew's best friend, Alpha - or Alessandro Tessoreri, as he doesn't like to be called - and their group of popular senior friends.

Then, Frankie finds herself mixed with and yet excluded from the secret society of long standing tradition in Alabaster: the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. She knows about it because her dad was a member, and she finds out Mathew, Alpha and his friends are too, but it's an all boys club that she's not supposed to know about. But Frankie doesn't deal well with that kind of exclusions, especially when Mathew begins to lie to her about it.

Soon, Frankie is master minding the moves of the Order - while remaining in the shadows - but will that get her what she wants? And what is that she wants, anyway?

That was my biggest problem with the book, I could never truly get Frankie's reason to do all the things she ends up doing, they are brilliant and all but in the end they sort of make me dislike her a little. There are times when it seems that she does things just to prove that she can, to make a point rather than because there is a real reason. Now, I understand part of her reasoning, about feeling excluded and wanting in and wanting equality and despising double standards - I've been there, too - but I can't finish empathizing with Frankie, at times she seems to just want to exercise and prove her own cleverness.

Mathew and Alpha end up looking silly, really, they are supposed to be cool but I just didn't get it. I ended up only liking background characters, like Frankie's sister Zeda; Trish, her roommate and best friend, and her ex boyfriend Porter.

However, the book is cleverly written - if it starts a bit slow until about a third way in - and it is fun at parts (though at parts I did feel like these weren't entirely teenagers but thirty year-olds trapped in teenage bodies), and ultimately entertaining but maybe just not my cup of tea.


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