Title: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Date Completed: 3/24/2011
Author(s): E. Lockhart
Copyright: 2008, Hyperion Teens
# pages: 342
Genre: YA Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-7868-3818-9

This is the second Young Adult (YA) book that I’m reading to support FirstBook’s Blogger Book Club. First Book is an organization that provides books to children in need through programs like ours. Many of the books that Building a Bookshelf has given away have come from First Book.

Frankie Landau-Banks is a girl who sees clearly into the murky waters that define life in high school. I loved this book on a couple of different levels. But, before I get ahead of myself, let me give you a teaser of the plotline for the book.

Frankie is an invisible Freshman, who becomes the very visible girlfriend of the senior ‘man on campus,’ before ultimately becoming invisible again. This all happens in the backdrop of an elite private boarding school where Frankie’s dad was a member of the secret all-male Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds society.

One of the first reasons I loved this book is because it doesn’t follow the typical ‘girl pines over the popular boy, girl gets the popular boy, girl gets jilted by the popular boy’ format. Don’t get me wrong. That is exactly what happens. But the refreshing part of the story is that Frankie never loses herself in her boyfriend. She starts to on several occasions, but she always reminds herself that she is not defined by her beau. I think this quote from the book (page 103) does a perfect job of summarizing: ‘They [girls] are so focused on their boyfriends that they don’t remember they had a life at all before their romances, so they don’t become upset that the boyfriend isn’t interested.’

I think this book is a great way for girls to learn that they should not lose themselves in the boys that they will inevitably have crushes on. Frankie gets the guy and still has her own life. Refreshing.

Second, I like this book from an adult professional woman perspective. After nearly 20 years in the corporate world, I am constantly struggling with the ‘good old boys club’ that is pervasive in our culture. There are many, many times that I’m the only woman in the conference room. On a day-to-day basis, this doesn’t bother me. But there are times when I know that there is something more under the surface that I’m not privy to because I’m not part of the club. This is the exact situation that Frankie finds herself in. Her boyfriend and all of his pals are part of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. They think that Frankie doesn’t know about it. They may be clever, but not that clever.

As I read the book, I just kept thinking that what Frankie encounters with the Basset Hounds is what she will encounter the rest of her life as she gets out into the professional world. However, she will have a leg-up because she has already learned a way [not to] push back against the good old boy network. I’m cheering for Frankie – I see great things in her future!