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The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks | E. Lockhart | Reviewed by Ria

*image via GoodReads

One year ago Frankie Landau-Banks was on one of the lowest rigs of the social ladder at Alabaster Prep School. This year Frankie’s all grown up (and filled out), is now a Sophmore poised for big things when she graduates and has gotten herself a enviably handsome senior boyfriend - who also just happens to be Matthew Livingston, one of the most popular students on campus. On paper Frankie has a pretty sweet life, but standing in the sidelines and playing the 'good wife' isn't cutting it anymore.

When Matthew starts sneaking around and ditching her in favour of his friends to meet in the middle of the night, she follows him. Turns out Matthew is part of an all-male secret society who go around drinking beers in abandoned parts of the school or golf courses at midnight and generally being a bit stuck up about it. This in itself is not was pisses Frankie off - her own father was an alumni of the same society, she knows what's up. What's annoying is that she's not allowed to be a part of it. No matter how intelligent she is the boys will always think of her as the sweet little Sophmore girl on Matthew's arm.

Oh how wrong they are! Frankie may be a girl, but she's smarter than all of them put together...and she's gonna prove it to them once and for all.

What's my verdict?

There are two main things I took away from this book. 1) Lockhart is an absolute master at capturing the gated world of the upper class American teenager 2) I think we all have a bit Frankie Landau-Banks within all of us - whether that’s a good or bad thing you can read the book to decide.

In essence Frankie is a little bit different to your stock-YA protragonist. At the beginning of the book she starts of with the life that most YA women crave - a great school education, good group of friends, a hot-a-f*ck boyfriend, and gets the best of both worlds in terms of social standing (she's a member of the 'geekier' societies at school but still gets to hang with Matthew and his senior friends). She's equal parts Kat Stratford, Veronica Sawyer and Rory Gilmore with a bit of the wicked philosophical feel of Magro from Paper Towns.

Whilst reading this it actually hit me how unusual it is to see a YA protagonist who isn't governed by her lack or self esteem. If anything Frankie knows EXACTLY who she is and her self worth. One of the popular comments on Frankie's character is that she'll probably grow up to be a politician one day and I whole-heatedly agree. Frankie is no First Lady, she'll settle for no less than being President thanks.

She's also not a perfect role model though. She's scheme-y, can be irrational and gets easily heated in an argument. It's arguable that she over analyses every situation she's in - probably part of her debate team brain getting the best of her. She's also 15 year old hormonal teenager and a girl in love with a boy who rather infuriatingly doesn't see her as anything more than his pretty yet witty girlfriend. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but as someone who has lived her life with a chip on her should I can see why this is irritating.

In the end it's not Matthew she's actually in love with, it's the idea of power and the privilege that comes from being him and his all-male secret society. Frankie's a total feminist and there's a running theme how gender inequality manifests itself within the school setting as girls grow up.

Despite its more serious hidden themes, the book still manages to be a heap of fun. As I said Lockhart really captures Frankie's boarding school world so well and even the gender politics are given a light-hearted spin through Frankie's well-laid plans.

Reading Soundtrack:
Bad Reputation: Joan Jett; Beautiful Dirty Rich: Lady Gaga; I'm a b*tch: Alanis Morisette; No Sleep Tonight: The Faders; Black Sheep: Gin Wigmore

For lovers of...The Riot Club, The Heathers, and Gilmore Girls.

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