Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: Debate Club. Her father’s “bunny rabbit.” A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.
Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16: Possibly a criminal mastermind.
This is the story of how she got that way.
I´m still trying to understand why I hadn´t heard of this book before.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks just became one of my favorite books, and I´m just gonna make a list of all the things that I love about it. A long, fangirly, shameless list of all the reasons why you should read this book:
First and foremost, there is nothing I like better than an unapologetic, strong female character. Frankie has insecurities, of course, like every teenage girl, but she is so focused on just doing stuff that those insecurities don´t hinder her. She is stubborn and slightly psychotic, but oh man, I wanna be just like her. She is a force of nature and she crushed everyone who underestimated her. “It´s better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can´t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people. She will not be simple and sweet. She will not be what people tell her she should be.” I want to do as she did.
Plus, I´m a total sucker for unreliable narrators; they make everything much, much more interesting.
Secondly, it´s got a secret society. I love the idea of being part of something mysterious that everyone knows about, but they have no idea what it does. And let´s be realistic, it´s really hard to go wrong when it comes to secret societies- they practically scream “PLOT POTENTIAL”. Secret plans, secret meetings, secret hideouts, secret traditions, secret treasures…It all sounds like a big, fun adventure. And as our deliciously crafty main character also learned: “Secrets are more powerful when people know you´ve got them.”
And I actually learned a lot with this book. It´s got a fun plot, but it´s so much more than that! It´s highly political, thought provoking and it´s a solid, feminist novel. Frankie overanalyzed everything, and I loved every second of it. I´m so tired of Young Adult novels that just go through the motions, and it was so refreshing to read something that doesn´t only provide the reader with an interesting story, but also teaches us something. Frankie tries to deconstruct society (I can´t wait to use concepts such as the panopticon on a school essay), and dissects what it means to have power, to be ambitious.
This is a book I wish I´d read when I was like, 12. At a time where I felt small and had a hard time understanding that I did not need to fit in, this book would´ve been amazing. Even now, it just intensified the feeling that being my own person is more important than staying in the box, and that women are way more than just bra sizes. I loved this book so, so much.
Don’t worry, though, it´s not just all politics and social deconstruction. It´s got mischievous boys, brilliant pranks, relatable characters and some really funny situations and ideas. For example, the neglected positives: they´re ridiculous, but at the same time, I keep finding myself creating them all the time. What is a neglected positive, you may ask? Well, kind lady/sir/humanoid, have you ever wondered what is the positive word for disparage? That would be parage. What about disheveled? That´s easy, it´s sheveled. All those neglected positives are just lying about and no one´s using them, poor things.
I feel like I´m a stronger person after reading this. Or at least, I feel that with hard work and determination, I can do anything.
The story is wonderful and, in my opinion, has one of the best endings out there. It gets a solid five stars and a cupcake from me. Wait, no, not a cupcake: a basset hound. Five stars and a puppy.