After thoroughly enjoying Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, I decided to try out another young adult novel that takes place in a boarding school. My attention was immediately drawn to The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, a book which ended up surprising me. I suspected from the summary to be reading a light-hearted romance filled romp, much like Anna and the French Kiss, but The Disreputable History is clearly A Book With A Purpose. Yes, there’s plenty to be fun here but beneath that fun is a message about double standards, and the power struggle that can be found between men and women,
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks covers so many issues regarding gender that I wish that more young adult books would go into. At the same time, the admittedly worthy feminist message almost ends up being the book’s undoing. At times, it is dealt with too heavy handily, making the characters appear to be mouthpieces for the books overall message (an issue, interestingly enough I recently had with a very different book, Xenocide by Orson Scott Card). Fortunately, I felt the book for the most part was really interesting, so my enjoyment wasn’t dampened too much.
Another thing I enjoyed about this book is the character of Frankie herself. On one hand, she’s confident and strong (the omniscient narrator even calls her a criminal mastermind), but she can also display vulnerability and uncertainty, which makes her appear more realistic. I enjoyed many of the side characters, who were equally well drawn. Much of the dialogue in this book has a witty, back-and-forth banter like quality that was quite fun to read. The best part of the books of course were the chapters that dealt with the pranks put out by the Basset Hounds. It was at these moments that I felt the book was at it’s strongest.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks may not be a perfect novel, but it’s still an overall solid story that manages to impart important messages while still being a lot of fun to read. I would recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction for young adults, especially those looking for stories that take place in boarding schools.
Rating: four stars
Length: 345 pages
Source: Readfield Community Library
Other books I've read by this author: This is my first
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