Meet Miss Frankie Landau-Banks, commonly known as Bunny Rabbit to her family. Her nickname might suggest that she's small and cute and harmless, but in her second year at her prestigious boarding high school, Alabaster, she's anything but.
When Frankie starts her sophomore year, she's grown from a slightly awkward, gangly young girl into a total hottie. In true She's All That fashion, the most popular boy at school, Matthew Livingston, suddenly notices her, falls for her, and hilarity ensues. This ain't your average girl gets hot, girl gets boy, girl lives happily ever after with hot boy story—no sir.
See, there's more to Matthew than you think. Frankie finds out that he and his friends are involved in a secret society called the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, which she can't join because she's a girl. So Frankie, being the fierce female that she is, decides to infiltrate the Order in the best way possible—by impersonating the leader of the group and getting the Order to carry out pranks at her bidding.
Sure, E. Lockhart has delivered to her readers plenty of girly young adult fare such as The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book, but her 2008 novel The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks gives us a taste of some seriously feminist flair. On a scale of one to ten, Frankie's rebellion clocks in somewhere around a fifteen on the Girl Power meter, but it's not without its consequences. So Lockhart uses Frankie's story to explore what power means to a teenage girl, and all the baggage that comes with that power, especially for a lady in charge. Pranks? Gender politics? A kickbutt heroine? A disreputable history? Sounds like a recipe for a National Book Award finalist to Shmoop.
The protagonist of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks faces down all the classic teen troubles, but she does so with her own unique twist. If there's anything to be learned from fearless Frankie, it's that you don't have to solve typical problems in a typical way. You can tackle them on your own (awesome) terms.
Frankie is an outside-the-box thinker when it comes to the problems that plague her. Instead of worrying about what her boyfriend thinks of her, Frankie worries about how to make herself into the kind of person she can respect. Instead of worrying about fitting in, she challenges the system that won't let her in. Frankie isn't hard on herself; she's hard on the systems and institutions that stop her from reaching her full potential.
Even those of us who are past the precarious and difficult time of adolescence can learn from Frankie's brand of fearlessness and self-confidence. Instead of looking at the world around her and saying I guess I'll just make do, Frankie says This won't do at all. Then she changes it.
All things E. Lockhart, all the time. She says it best when she says, "I write novels for teenagers and I love my job."
E. Lockhart, it turns out, isn't a real person at all. It's the nom de plume of one Emily Jenkins, writer of children's books. And, to be fair, adult books, too.
A Sneak Peek
In this interview with E. Lockhart, she reveals that she has a tiny office with dark pink walls. Cute or claustrophobic?
High Praise for the Hoity-Toits
The New York Times says of Frankie's tale: "She undergoes a transformation from a nice girl with a pretty face to an intellectually shrewd, possibly 'near-criminal mastermind,' the planner and executor of elaborate schemes that have both students and faculty following her lead, all conveyed by way of a witty third-person narrator, whose dispassionate tone gives this novel its delicious, deadpan sense of humor."
Check out a YouTube interview in which a puppet talks to E. Lockhart. Because why not?
Mysterious Blue Envelopes
We're sure you recognize the seal on the envelope that graces the cover of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.
The Woman Behind the Magic
Meet E. Lockhart, the author herself.