The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, a 2009 Printz honoree by E. Lockhart isn't my typical read. I don't normally relate to girls who have everything and Frankie most definitely does. During her fifteenth summer, she transforms into a girl boys notice. She's barely begun her sophomore year at a prestigious boarding school when she snags the attention of senior, Matthew Livingston, the most popular boy on campus. It launches her into an select circle of boys who belong to a decades old secret society called The Basset Hounds.
Frankie's father was a Basset Hound and he reveals just enough about the society to plant a seed of curiosity in Frankie. Hoping for an invitation to the club, she tries to distract Matthew from her face and body and impress him with her keen mind. But The Basset Hounds has been exclusively male since its founding in 1941 and the members aren't about to change that. When no invitation is offered, Frankie activates Plan B. Taking on the leader's identity via email, she organizes a series of pranks so ingenious the whole school is buzzing. To save face, the real leader takes credit, just as Frankie planned.
Plotting bigger and bigger escapades, Frankie controls the Bassets like a puppet master. For awhile, she's satisfied with the thrill of proving to herself she's brighter than Matthew and his cohorts. But a part of her wants the boys to recognize her efforts. When her pranks push the headmaster to threaten severe punishment, Frankie is faced with a dilemma. How far will she go to get the Bassets' attention and who will get hurt in the meantime?
As a reader who relates to outcasts, it wasn't easy stepping into Frankie's shoes. But while Frankie isn't an outsider, she's also never been special or part of the popular crowd. I did relate to her need to be accepted and even more so, to her desire to be intellectually respected. I enjoyed Lockhart's thought-provoking, imaginative style and I'd like to think if Frankie and I met today, we'd find something to talk about.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist, and I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti at Open Book Literary.
Lorin Oberweger - Freelance Editor