cover image The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

E. Lockhart, . . Hyperion, $16.99 (345pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-3818-9

Big ideas are an essential part of the fun in this sparkling tour de force. Back at her elite boarding school after a summer vacation in which she has grown from duckling to swan, sophomore Frankie starts dating cool, gorgeous senior Matthew and instantly becomes a part of his charmed social circle. Hanging with Matthew and his crowd is a thrill, but Frankie begins to chafe as she realizes that the boys are all members of the secret society to which her own father belonged, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hound, and that not only will they never let her join, Matthew will not even tell her about it. Lockhart (Dramarama ; The Boyfriend List ) dexterously juggles a number of smart and tantalizing themes—class and privilege, feminism and romance, wordplay and thought, friendship and loyalty—and combines the pacing of a mystery with writing that realizes settings and characters, large and small, with an artist’s sure hand. Inspired by a class called Cities, Art and Protest, Frankie concocts a brilliant plan to infiltrate the Bassets and has them carry out a series of pranks that wittily challenge the politics of the school. Girls especially will be interested in this unusual portrait of a heroine who falls in love without blurring her sense of self, even if none of her friends understands her, and in Lockhart’s fresh approach to gender politics. An exuberant, mischievous story, it scores its points memorably and lastingly. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)