Study Guide

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks Coming of Age

By E. Lockhart

Coming of Age

Between May and September, she gained four inches and twenty pounds, all in the right places. Went from being a scrawny, awkward child with hands too big for her arms, a frizz of unruly brown puff on her head […] to being a curvaceous young woman with an offbeat look that boys found distinctly appealing. (2.3)

Well, we can't say that's a bad way to transform over the summer when you're a teenage girl. But do you think that Frankie's inner self has caught up with her outer self's growth spurt?

What Frankie did that was unusual was to imagine herself in control. The drinks, the clothes, the invitations, the instructions, the food (there had been none), the location, everything. She asked herself: If I were in charge, how could I have done it better? (13.54)

Frankie has some real confidence in herself. Instead of just being grateful that she was invited to a senior party, she thinks of how she could be in charge. Someone's confident.

So I was a monster, she thought. At least I wasn't someone's little sister, someone's girlfriend, some sophomore, some girl—someone whose opinions don't matter. (20.77)

Bunny Rabbit no more, Frankie delivers a verbal lashing to her ex-boyfriend Porter. If we had any doubt that Frankie was a good debater, this would have cleared things up. But what's really telling here is that Frankie would rather be a monster than someone's, well, anything. Fair enough. At least when she's being a monster, it's on her own terms.

She found herself to be a talented tail—as if her years of meek inconsequentiality had trained her. (26.41)

Maybe she used to be a mousy girl, but Frankie's now grown into herself. She knows where she's headed. She's pretty smart to put those years of diminutive behavior to good use. Now she's able to use her status as a Bunny Rabbit to her advantage—because no one ever suspects the meek and mild girl, right?

Frankie wanted to be a force. (29.19)

The teenage years are a critical time for defining yourself, and Frankie definitely knows what she wants to be known as. The question is, does she achieve this goal? Mission accomplished?

She stood there, exhilarated, listening to fifty-four students and three faculty members argue, speculate and wonder. About something she had done. Something she had made happen. (36.52-54)

Frankie is no longer an inconsequential little sister or girlfriend. She's someone who has made a serious impact on the school—even if no one knows it but her. We're betting she's feeling pretty gruntled right now, but is anyone else worried that she might be getting a bit power-hungry?

Now she was the commander in chief of a squad of older boys, sending them on adventures that shook Alabaster to its foundations. (38.37)

In the span of 38 chapters or so, she's gone from gawky geeky girl to commander in chief. That's quite the transformation. Did she get her newfound boldness from dating Matthew? From her brand new body? Or did she just, you know, grow up?

"You're kidding me. There's no way you're a sophomore. Last year, I swear it on my grave, I was changing your diapers." (39.44)

Her uncles are clearly a little out of date. Never mind, Frankie will show them that she's grown up in due time. And in any case, his comment serves as a handy reminder—Frankie's still quite young. That makes her level of maturity all the more impressive.

They were not sure quite where she fit in anymore. If she was not Bunny Rabbit, as it was finally clear she was not—who was she? (45.11)

Frankie finally sheds her nickname of Bunny Rabbit. It took some extreme action, but she did it! And once you shed your pet name, well, that makes it official: you've grown up.

She watches the boys as they peel off in different directions and disappear around corners and into the buildings of Alabaster. She doesn't feel like crying anymore. (46.62-63)

Maybe one of the most important lessons of growing up is learning how to be alone… and still loving yourself. Frankie certainly has to learn this the hard way when it comes to her relationship with Matthew.

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