If a book is good, I will probably recommend it to my book-loving friends. If a book is great, I might also recommend it to friends and family who don’t read often. The true test of a book, though, is whether I keep recommending for years. The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E. Lockhart is such a book. When I first read the book back in 2009, I was blown away by how much I loved it. I’ve since read (and enjoyed) everything by E. Lockhart that I can get my hands on, but The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks has always remained my favorite.
The book follows Frankie through her sophomore year at a private boarding school. Although she attended the same school the previous year, this year is new on many fronts. For one thing, her sister and friends all graduated, so the circle of friends Frankie followed around last year is gone. For another thing, people are noticing her for the first time because she got quite a bit prettier over the summer. When Frankie starts dating Matthew, she is quite sure the year is going to be great. It becomes readily apparent to her, however, that Matthew is part of a secret all-boys society that has been on campus for generations. The society intrigues her, but she also less than impressed by the low-level pranks they run. No one at the school even seems to notice them. She is certain that she could come up with something better, but there’s the little problem that The Loyal Order of the Basset Hound doesn’t accept girls. The rest of the book follows Frankie’s attempts to join the organization, including a fantastic prank she organizes by pretending to be the leader of the society by way of a fake email account.
I was hooked on Frankie almost immediately. What’s not to love about a smart girl, cute boyfriend, and a secret society? In addition to the plot, The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks is full of clever word games, smart societal commentary, and believable (but not boring) mental dialogue. This is not a book that tackles any of the world’s problems or the heavier sides of adolescence. Nor is it an accurate representation of high school for anyone I’ve ever met, but I did thoroughly enjoy it. I laughed the whole time but still had something to chew on at the end. Plus, I learned a new word (schadenfreude: pleasure derived at the misfortune of others), which I always love. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is being made into a movie, which I will undoubtedly see, though part of me might wish it was Frankie instead.
I would recommend this to: readers who enjoy a clever, snappy protagonist.