Duck Duck Book

66 – disreputable history
12.4.2010, 2:43 pm
Filed under: fiction

The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks : a novel / by E. Lockhart.
New York : Hyperion, c2008.
[MCL call number: y LOCKHART; 17 copies, no holds
also in large type at:  LGE-TYPE y LOCKHART 2009; three copies, no holds
and in audiobook format read by Tanya Eby Sirois at: CD YA LOCKHART; five copies, no holds
and in downloadable audiobook format read by Tanya Eby Sioris; one copy, no holds]

One of the great strengths of fiction is that it can offer readers the opportunity to pretend to be someone they are not.  This isn’t always an actual pleasure for the reader — sometimes it is quite agonizing to read the part where your protagonist embarrasses herself, takes an action that hurts a loved one, or makes a terrible mistake.  But overall, there is real joy in stepping into another person’s skin while reading their story.

Adolescence is a precarious time filled with possibilities, broken promises, discovery, and agony — making it an excellent stage of life for a fictional protagonist.  No one escapes their teenaged years unscathed.  You try something new and fail horribly, you embarrass yourself by blurting out the wrong thing, you find you have no words available when you most want to express yourself, you wish desperately for things that are made impossible by the stupid rigidity of your life and circumstances, you take emotional risks without realizing they are risks at all and then get hurt, and so on.  Adolescence is glorious in its suckitude.  But at its best it is also a period of intellectual growth, burgeoning independence, and intense joy in the experience of living.  A few soaring highs to go with the agonizing lows.

Frankie Landau-Banks is a more or less normal 15-year-old girl who happens upon a complex (and sort of infuriating) underworld at her exclusive private school.  There is a group of boys, one of whom is Frankie’s new boyfriend Matthew, running a secret society.  No girls allowed.  This offends Frankie’s sense of fairness, but more importantly, she wants in.

She doesn’t want in just to break a barrier, or just to get closer to Matthew — after some self-examination, Frankie realizes that what she wants most is to be recognized as intelligent, interesting, clever, and worthy of the friendship and admiration of this powerful group of kids.  But, not only do they dismiss her as too young and too female to be worthy of more than cursory attention, they don’t even realize it when she finds a way to insinuate herself into their affairs.  After a few months, she is running their whole show, three steps ahead of even the club’s savvy co-president, masterminding elaborate pranks and creating an unheard of buzz among the student body.  Obviously she’s going to get found out, right?

[thanks, Joanna]


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