The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Summary from Goodreads:

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.
This is the story of how she got that way.

The story goes far beyond what the blurb implies. Although one can see your usual contemporary YA elements like rich boarding school kids, pranks, and late night parties, all of which precede the makings of fluff. But in this novel, the so-called rules of society was dissected and challenged. The power play, the double standard (man vs woman; privileged vs under privileged), patriarchal authority, the panopticon. All of Frankie's scheming, plotting, and pranking were all done not merely out of fun but with the end goal of breaking down these things which have now become social norms.

If I could have an alter-ego, a Mr. Hyde, Frankie would be an excellent choice. Most of the strong female heroines that I made their mark on my brain are in fantasy novels. Those that can wield a sword or can hit the bullseye or has a mean karate chop. But Frankie has the kind of skills that will take you places in the real world, not necessarily gain the approval of everyone but it does the job. She is smart and is an excellent strategist. Cunning enough to make a group of senior boys do her every bidding. I love that she is written as both geeky and pretty. Looks and brains, the perfect combination of an evil genius mastermind. And going through Frankie's head was amusing, awe-inspiring, and heartbreaking all at the same time. I enjoyed all of her comments and analysis about anyone and anything, (as well as her sister Zada's and friend Trish's) and that geekiness and "smartness" translated into her pranks. But what I found heartbreaking was that there are a couple of other reasons besides challenging the social norms and wanting change as Frankie revealed. I found out that she is still very much a 16 year old girl at heart.

This book surprised me a lot. I thought Lockhart would play the love triangle card on Matthew, Alpha, and Frankie, but she took the high road and did not. (Whew!) I thought this was a fun, bubblegum contemporary YA read, what with rich kids in a boarding school and pranks but like I said, it speaks of many truths as to how our society works that long after I've read it, it left me contemplating some of them in a corner.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is a recipeint of the ff: National Book Award Nominee for Young People's Literature (2008), A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2008), Cybils Award for Young Adult Fiction (2008), Printz Honor (2009), South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2011), ALA Teens' Top Ten (2009), Florida Teens Read Nominee (2009), Iowa Teen Award Nominee (2011), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2011).

This is my 12th entry for the Award Winning Books Reading Challenge hosted by Gathering Books.


  1. Hi Tin! This sounds like a lovely book indeed. As you know I teach a graduate course on gifted education and I am always on the lookout for books about high ability learners, particularly gifted young girls/gifted women. This seems like a book that would fit that perfectly.

    Congratulations, by the way, you won another book prize for the July AWB Reading challenge for this review. Do send us your mailing address again together with your handphone number so we can send the book to you right away. Here is the announcement post, if you wish to visit it.

    1. Hey Myra! Yay! Nothing beats getting free books! Thanks! I will e-mail you the details. :D I hope you'll get a chance to read all about Frankie Landau Banks.


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