Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks


I belong to four book clubs. One of my favorite clubs is for English teachers and librarians in our school district. This club also meets online on the English Companion Ning. As I write this post, we have 132 online members. Pretty exciting. I highly recommend this ning to anyone who teaches English or who is a librarian. It's a pretty dynamic place and there's a whole lot being discussed.

Anyway, back to the book review. I read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks because it was the February selection for this book club. I have to admit that I was not super excited about reading this title. I don't know if it was the prep school premise or the cover or the synopsis on the book flap, but I wasn't "feelin'" it. Almost as soon as I started it, though, I was hooked. Now, I want to caution you that this if not going to be a glowing review. I have some serious issues with the choices of the main character, Frankie. But, it is a surprisingly good read.

The book starts with a letter penned by the title character. The reader can surmise that Frankie has gotten herself into a bit of trouble and that this trouble involves a series of pranks. In this letter, she confesses to being the brains behind the pranks and excludes others from blame for the result of said pranks. This is an interesting way to start the book, because when you meet Frankie you quickly see that she is not the type to pull off a bunch of crazy capers. In fact, she seems a little whiny and slightly boring. So, it's interesting to watch her transformation from super geek to super cool within the first few weeks of her sophomore year.

My problems with Frankie are not related to her being involved in pranks or being a bit of a rabble-rouser. I like that in a teen girl. Kinda reminds me of myself at her age. What I did not like was her false notion of what it means to be a strong woman. I don't think I'll give too much away if I say that Frankie becomes a bit obsessed with an all-male secret society at her school. She finds ways to get information about the society and infiltrates their ranks without them knowing. So, she's smart. But, I don't think that she proves anything by ruining their harmless fun. She does not seem to be stronger for having shown-up a bunch of guys. It seems a little sad and cruel to me. Maybe I'm over thinking this, but I just could not cheer her on as I kept reading.

I did get into this book, though. I was flipping pages as fast as I could to see where it was going. I just didn't agree with Frankie's motivations throughout the book. That's all. I think that this is a good book for a girl who's looking for a mystery. I'm glad I read it, and you probably will be too!

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