The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Lockhart, E. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks: a Novel. New York: Hyperion, 2008.
Grade Level: 7-10
Frankie is every teenager, totally underestimated. No one really sees her and it makes her so angry that she decides to take matters into her own hands. Lockhart weaves a straightforward tale of a 14 year old girl just trying to be seen in a world where people either don’t see her at all or see her through those special glasses that make a teenager look 4 years old still. This book is straightforward throughout; the narration is frank and concise. One really feels the discouragement and the need of the character. Frankie is both likeable and detestable. Matthew though is a complete idiot, and he may be pretty but that is his only really redeemable quality—at least for a teenage girl, because otherwise, I just don’t see it. The need to be included, however, especially in a social group that really does seem to have it all in High School, is something many teenagers can relate to whether they admit it or not. Everyone wants to be liked and accepted for whom they really are rather than how other people see them, and that is all Frankie really wants afterall.
Character development is pretty simple in this particular book. One learns more about lesser characters’ backgrounds than the protagonist’s. Other than very general family dynamics and the fact that Frankie is Jewish, unlike most of her classmates, Lockhart doesn’t really open Frankie’s past to the audience. It makes one wonder what it is about Frankie, other than being the youngest that has developed the view others have of her. Also, one has the sense that Frankie, while being relatively intelligent book wise, has never done something like this before, so what made her think to do it now? The plot is fast paced and succinct. The social commentary is the best part of the book and the parallel that is drawn between the school, the world, and the panopticon is very well done. The book allows one to really think about those unspoken societal “rules” and why we follow them.