Another Favorite Frankie

OK, friends have been recommending The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart, to me for a long time. Descriptions made it sound like another "spunky girl" YA novel, so I kept putting it off as I read Austen mashups, and William Gibson, and steampunk novels. Finally, I was forced to read it for a booktalk I gave to teachers last week.

Yes, Frankie is a spunky girl, a geeky high school freshman in search of a boyfriend. And yes, she suffers an amazing transformation over the summer and returns to her tony prep school in the Berkshires with a new set of "ladies" and a determination to show up her philandering ex-boyfriend by landing the most popular and privileged boyfriend at Alabaster boarding school. But Frankie wants to be listened to, not ogled. She's full of complicated thoughts that her family and boyfriend dismiss out of hand.

Worst of all, her boyfriend Matthew is king of the Loyal Order of the Bassett Hounds, a secret society that Frankie's father had told her all about. Matthew and his co-king Alpha won't even admit to its existence, as they plan lame, unimaginative pranks. When Frankie poses as a male Bassett online, she uses her research paper for a class on "Cities, Art and Protest" (included, with bibliography) to plan & execute elaborate art-happening social-commentary campus pranks. Her research and thoughts on class awareness, wealth and privilege, and urban anarchy could lead readers to emulate her campaign at their own schools. Or, at least to get a decent salad bar in the cafeteria.

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