Over the past couple of years I have seriously lucked out in the book department thanks to the awesome Book Blogger Holiday Swap and my secret santas. This past year, Jennifer of The Introverted Reader sent me a wonderful package full of goodies (edible and readable) including the much talked-about but never read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. A book which I didn't know much about, besides knowing good things were in store.
Bookish, introverted Frankie has never been much to talk about (as far as her male peers are concerned) until the summer before her sophomore year when she gains weight in all the right places and winds up catching the eye of her longtime crush and Mr. Popular himself, Matthew Livingston. Being the arm-candy of Alabaster Prep's most sought-after upperclassman draws Frankie into a entire new world of Matthew's bold and exciting friends. It's everything Frankie thought she wanted - until she decides she wants more. After a couple of canceled dates and flimsy excuses, the ever-observant and extremely crafty Frankie discovers that Matthew is part of a decades-old all boy secret society -- and Frankie wants in.
Frankie is the best kind of protagonist. She thinks. She analyzes. And then she makes rational decisions in her own trademark-Frankie way. But she's also a far cry from perfect. She makes mistakes and gets her heart broken but that just makes her all the more brilliant in my book. Also, she's hilarious. Her fascination with neglected positives a la P.G. Wodehouse like gruntled or turbed or maculate had me in stitches throughout. The secondary characters were also absolute stand-outs, especially the tongue-in-cheek hilarious phone conversations Frankie had with her clever sister Zada. If I had any complaints (which are very few) it would be the lackluster relationship development between Frankie and Matthew's best friend Alpha, who always came off as much more layered and complicated than Matthew ever was.
Aside from being an incredibly funny yet heart-wrenching story to read, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks also takes an intimate look at the roles females play at Alabaster Prep (and later on in society). As she's heard from her father (an Alabaster alum) her entire life, Alabaster Prep will enable Frankie to form connections and learn truths she'll use the rest of her life. Problem is, Frankie doesn't just want to be the pretty but smart, complacent girl who eventually marries some investment banker. She wants into the Good 'Ole Boys club herself where she can make those kind of lasting connections. Anyone reading this book - male or female - could not but take a moment to evaulate their own expectations for women in general. Genius.
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Bookshelves of Doom review
The Book Smugglers review
Forever Young Adult review
Presenting Lenore review
book source: Book Blogger Holiday Swap - The Introverted Reader