Monday, July 28, 2008

Yes. Rebel.

Every year there are books I can't wait to get other people to read. Usually those are the ones I blog right away. Imagine my shock when I realized the book I've recommended to more teens than any other this year (a wider, more easily pegged audience than Little Brother and Jenna Fox?) has not appeared here. Now, it's not like you've not heard of it from every other blog you read, (or from my very mouth, b/c I talk a lot) but all the same, just in case I've missed a couple of you, or you've been hiding somewhere. Plus, it's waaay overdue at the library and there are holds. I'm irritating the very girls I tell to read it by keeping it (I don't like to write about books unless I've got a copy near. Hence, I am a terrible library patron. Luckily, my library doesn't charge fines. Seriously. No one gets fines. Course, if you keep the book a month overdue, you get charged for it. Until you return the book. I'm hoping to, um, clear my account I can check out more books...).

Anyway, some are turned off by the subtle (or not so) feminist undertones in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I am not. Why? Because I think it's new information to Frankie, and let's be honest, the intended audience, and because the info was given in annoying lectures by Frankie's older sister. Was her older sister simply a tool for that purpose and not fleshed out enough beyond that? There, you may have an argument, but in the context, I'm ok with it. What with sis off at college, and Frankie at the swank school alone for the first time - she makes her own interpretation of the feminist ideal. A funny, clever, action-prone, make-you-want-to-cheer interpretation.

Frankie's dad was a member of the Secret Order of the Basset Hounds. She's known OF them, but they've never been anything more than a name to her, what with them being a secret society and all. But the summer between freshman and sophomore year Frankie grew up. She goes back to her swanky and competitive boarding school a total knockout. And now people notice her. Now the most popular boy at school notices her. When the call goes out recruiting new Basset Hounds (all boys) and she begins to suspect that her boyfriend is the leader of the pack (vroom-vroom), Frankie decides she will show them that Girls are just as good as boys. Even if it means she has to go behind all of the boys' backs.

Favorite quote:

"...Frankie remembered how Matthew had called her a 'pretty package,' how he'd called her mind little, how he'd told her not to change -- as if he had some power over her. A tiny part of her wanted to go over to him and shout, 'I can feel like a hag some days if I want! And I can tell everybody how insecure I am if I want! Or I can be pretty and pretend to think I'm a hag out of fake modesty -- I can do that if I want, too. Because you, Livingston, are not the boss of me and what kind of girl I become.' But most of her simply felt happy that he had put his arm around her and told her he thought she was pretty" p 79-80.

Notice something a little different with that bit? It's 3rd person omniscient. It's unusual to find it in teen novels, and it lend an equally unusual, almost voyeuristic, tone to the title. There's a touch of distance between the reader and, well. Remember those nature movies Disney used to make? The narration in Frankie sometimes reminded me of those. It absolutely works, in fact, it makes it stand out. I also adore the duality of desire there - she wants to be recognized as an independent woman while still getting to be told she's pretty. All girls, no matter what, want to hear they are pretty once in a while (hear that Kyle?). All girls should demand both.

It shoots out to the front when we speak of my favorite of E. Lockhart's (displacing Dramarama - though I've not read Fly on the Wall, and that's frequently other people's favs. According to my sources.).

Will there be a sequel? I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me. There's definitely an open window. I'll read it. I think it will appeal to the general girl audience, but especially to those who like Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls books.


Anonymous said...

YES. Nature-movie narration!! You totally nailed that.

Little Willow said...

I love this book - the writing, the story, the POV, all of it.

Anonymous said...

As always, you've made me want to go out and find this book. ^_^