Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks - E. Lockhart

Release Date: January 1st 2015 (originally January 1st 2008)
Published By: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 352
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Purchase: Click here to purchase

Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis: 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 Landau-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.

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is being released in Australia in 2015, and I jumped at the chance to read another E. Lockhart book, as I loved We Were Liars so much. So I will admit that I had high expectations for this book. And maybe this is where I set it up to fail. I just didn’t connect to The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks like I did with We Were Liars.

After summer break with her family who think she is still a child, Frankie returns to Alabaster Prep Academy, but everything is now different. She is no longer in the shadow of her popular sister Zada, and she has grown in a curvaceous young girl who now attracts the eye of boys. And she attracts the eye of one boy in particular, Matthew Livingston.

But while her relationship with Matthew is blossoming, Frankie finds proof of a secret society, The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, and although this a male only society, Frankie wants in. And she will do whatever it takes.

I found Frankie confusing, and also hypocritical. She sprouts off about her dorm-mate shirking feminism to do what makes her happy, but yet then obsesses over the hot boy, her own social status and physical looks - all to me undermined her argument of feminism - which ultimately is to defend the social rights of women, so they can be who they want to be, without being judged on the gender, looks or social standing, and to be able to do as they please, without the judgement of others.

Frankie also comments on how her father is always going on about her prestigious school, and how it is a place where she will make connections and set herself up for life. At first Frankie thinks this is ridiculous, but as the book progresses, she herself starts to think along the same lines; how it is so important to be in with the “in crowd” and how this will set her up for the future. But she not only wants to be accepted, she wants to be at the top - and this basically turns into an obsession for her.

Throughout the book I could not understand why Frankie was doing what she was doing, what did she want out of it? Why was it so important, what was the end-game? I just didn’t get it.

Frankie is smart, she is observant and she isn’t happy to spend her life following the “norm” - all of which are great qualities. She is however self-involved and hypocritical. She made a few comments about girls who get so involved in their relationships that they forget who they are, but then she would get distracted by the pretty boy holding her hand. Frankie constantly commented on how her boyfriend didn’t really see her for her worth, but yet continued to try to prove herself to him. She complained about him keeping her at a certain distance, about not being equal, but then her actions seem to indicate she didn’t want to be equal at all - she wanted to be the top dog. Her conflicting thought processes just confused me - I don’t know if Frankie was just a confused teenager, or if there are some bigger issues going on.

The one thing I did really enjoy was the supporting characters of Zada and Trish - these girls truly cared about Frankie, and the unconditional support they gave her was impressive. I would have liked to have known a little more about another character in the story “Alpha”. His entrance was interesting, and when he reappeared again I thought “oh, this could be interesting”, but then it fell flat.

I honestly think I missed something in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I just cannot work out what it is. This story does however masterfully tell the tale of high-school life and the pressures it includes. Especially when it comes to “cliques”. This book is based in the US, so these situations takes form in the way of clubs and societies, which we don’t’ really have in Australia - but it all transferable into cliques. The popular clique, the geeky clique, the in-between clique etc. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is strongly focused on gender politics, and for this I give Frankie credit. She is fighting for equality (in most cases) and her intelligent debates on this matter where well thought out - but sadly they sometimes missed their mark with her audience.

While The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was not my favourite book, I can’t say I hated it. I just didn’t connect to the character, or understand her actions, but that doesn’t mean that it was a terrible book, or that others will not enjoy this book much more than I did. There are some great messages about equality and the struggles of acceptance littered throughout this story.


“She will not be simple and sweet.
She will not be what people tell her she should be.”

“Secrets are more powerful when people know you’ve got them.”

“ She wasn’t a person who needed to be liked so much as she was a person who liked to be notorious.”


What do you think?

  • Mawa Mahima says:

    Frankie sounds so badass that I know I’ll look forward to reading this (although I haven’t read We Were Liars which everyone seemed to love). This is releasing in Australia in 2015? She does seem slightly stuck-up, but ah what can you do? The criminal mastermind bit intrigues me to no end!
    Mawa Mahima recently posted…Curious: How to Get Your Mojo BackMy Profile

  • Sierra says:

    I read this when I was in high school and remember loving it, but I can’t quite remember much about it. Maybe it’s due for a re-read to see how it measures up. I do have to say I love the new cover. I kind of want the Australian edition just for that!
    Sierra recently posted…Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor // Book ReviewMy Profile

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