Hey… This is my 100th post, as well as my 2nd anniversary (blogiversary?)! I began this blog June 6, 2010, when I was fresh out of student teaching and looking for a summer outlet. (This blog was almost called “My Summer of Unemployment,” but as my husband astutely noted, that kind of limits you as a blogger. Thanks, sweetie!) I’m also making a *big deal* because I didn’t even acknowledge my first anniversary. (I totally forgot– so much overshadowed the blog later in 2010, like graduating and my stepdad’s sudden passing, that a year later I didn’t even remember the month I started the blog.)
So, I don’t want to screw up the 100th post with a less- than-worthy book, right?
I don’t want to make a list of all the books I loved and hated while blogging, right? (I’ve been meaning to make that a page, actually… showing all the “grades” I gave books…)
And I totally didn’t want to travel the walk down memory lane. But it looks like that’s what I’m doing.
Then one of my friends and fellow book blogger Hannahlily made me take a pause while I went down Memory Lane… and she reminded me of E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I had originally gotten the recommendation from the blog Reasoning with Vampires, which called Frankie the “anti-Bella.” And honestly? It’s an awesome book.
Why do I love this book? It’s smart. It’s funny. It has a heroine that I can root for. A heroine who is devious, clever, and underestimated by everyone. She plays with language and calls people on indistinct grammar. She isn’t afraid of learning and enjoying her classes. But she’s at her core a typical girl, a regular human who wants to be respected.
Synopsis: The summer before her sophomore year, Frankie gets curves. She gets noticed at the beach and at her boarding school by the *right* people. As in, Matthew Livingston. As in, the boy she crushed on all year last year has finally noticed her.
She soon hooks up with Matthew and joins his group of friends: Alpha, Callum, and Dean. She quickly learns that they do a lot of “power play.” Alpha makes a point to show Frankie that no matter what she does, he has the upper hand. Matthew ditches Frankie at Alpha’s call. One night, she follows him, and discovers that they are members of a secret society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Alpha and Matthew are co-leaders. Frankie’s dad had been a member decades before, so she was up on her history of the club. However, these boys were LAME. The parties they threw? Boring. The pranks they were talking about? Yawn. So, when Alpha leaves town before the Halloween prank, Frankie makes a fake email address: thealphadog. She then proceeds to email detailed lists of what every member of the club is to do to pull off more elaborate, more interesting, more social satire, than the club (and the school) has ever seen.
I won’t ruin anything for you, but Frankie is a criminal mastermind. Even Alpha admits to her genius and takes credit for her work. (What else can he do, admit he’s not in charge?) But will Matthew still like her if he realizes that her “sizable evil mind wrapped in a pretty package” is behind all the Basset’s pranks?
This book is SO GOOD.
- Ms. Frankie is underestimated all the time by people who think they need to protect her: her mom, who won’t let her walk 15 blocks alone when her 11-year old (male) cousin can do it; Matthew’s annoying “protector” act; her ex’s warnings about avoiding Matthew because she was “so pretty now”… yeah.
- Girl, I hear ya. I’ve said it before: I’m 28, look like I’m 16. I live 6 hours from my family. I wish I were kidding, but when I was 25, my aunt and grandma freaked out when they heard I was driving home BY MYSELF at night. They had the audacity to call me a baby. Good gracious people. I get that I’m petite, but I have a working brain and I’m pretty independent. I think they were projecting their own fears on me, but still. (They treat my mom like this too, and she’s also petite. I just don’t understand people sometimes. I don’t think my 16-year old bulky nephew has QUITE this problem…)
- There’s a lot of social observations in this book that are spot-on. Frankie’s older sister Zada introduced her to Matthew and Dean the year before, and Alpha hit on her at the beach a mere three weeks before school started. Remembering (or not remembering) is a power play for them. There’s no way Dean could have forgotten Frankie, nor can Alpha “forget” a girl who gave him a frozen custard. (Alpha remembers, and makes a point to taunt her later about it without being direct.)
- Remember the “Audition Day” episode of 30 Rock? The most vicious thing to say to someone is “Nice to meet you!” when you already know them.
- I, like Frankie, tend to remember a lot. We’re quiet observers. Interactions with people who weren’t paying attention is so frustrating. I’m usually the rude person who remembers but won’t bring it up unless you do. (This is a complex I got in third grade when a girl who was in my summer school class had “no idea” who I was. We got out of class two days ago!) I’ll say hi, but I try not to be creepy and tell people exactly where I know them (“yeah, you’re the security guard that talked to us when we were walking on Labor Day!” makes you look a little crazy).
- Oh my gosh, Frankie is such a grammar nerd! She’s absolutely adorable in her love of the neglected positive, which basically means words that only have meanings with prefixes can be turned into the opposite by dropping the prefix. (Her favorite is “gruntled” but she uses “pugn” as the opposite of “impugn” a lot.) She hates it, however, when Matthew spoils her fun by correcting her grammar.
- Another fun word learned? Schadenfreude– finding joy in the pain of others.
- A LOT of girls forget once they have a boyfriend, they had a life BEFORE they were part of a couple. It’s disgusting. In college, I couldn’t believe the whining done by people who weren’t going to see their beloved for “two whole weeks” during Christmas vacation. Really? Often, people get so involved in their significant other’s life that they are almost erased. Instead of (in my case) Amber and Pete, couples are suddenly supposed to be AmberandPete, attached at the hip, no life outside each other. Frankie acknowledges that she’s blending in with the group, but she loves the carefree life Matthew and the Bassets lead. She’s aware it’s happening, whereas a Bella Swan-type may not even recognize she has no life outside of her boyfriend. She still has friends and activities outside of his group. When Zada tells her to make sure Matthew doesn’t erase her, she responds, “Don’t worry. I’m indelible.” (Possibly the best line in the book, although there were a ton of good, funny lines.)
- Despite being indelible, she seems to know Matthew only likes her as a weakling, and he doesn’t listen to her ideas. She doesn’t like to be bossed around by him, which he clearly likes to have control. In many ways, becoming the secret leader of his secret society allows her to have that power.
- Gender stereotypes work both ways in this book. I’m not going to ruin the ending, but suffice it to say, Frankie’s a psychopath while Alpha’s a genius.
Grades: 7th and up. Nothing truly terrible in this book, a little making out, some discussion of sex, but I think the fun with the English language would throw younger readers off a bit.
Grade: A+ Funny, smart, a good role model (I’m not saying it’s a good idea to be a criminal, but I AM saying it’s a good idea to be yourself and not take crap from people):