Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Feminist Awakening of a Criminal Mastermind

Elizabeth's Take

Since Kerry mentioned sharing our love of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks in her excellent blog introduction (gracias, Kerry!), I felt obliged to write my first post about my Serious and Everlasting love of Ms. Landau-Banks. Onward!

E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks had been in my library queue for what felt like forever before it finally arrived at my local library branch, but it was definitely worth the wait. The Disreputable History is a Printz Honor Book (Printz books = pretty much always awesome) and a feminist manifesto. Frankie herself is my new hero, even if she is a fictional teenage girl (sorry, young woman). I wish I had been her in high school, and I want her to be real and an adult so that we can be best pals. Frankie's realization of the gender inequalities present in her day to-day life is subtle and insidiously affecting--Lockhart's description of the sexism inherent in an everyday conversation between a teenage couple is especially powerful. I felt as if Lockhart pulled back a curtain on the gender roles and stereotypes still so present in our society. Plus, Frankie is a kick-ass criminal mastermind. Don't mess with her, and definitely respect her. I had a friend say that she wanted to give The Disreputable History to every teenage girl she knew, which I agree with--but I think it should be given it to every teenager you know.

Books I absolutely, positively guarantee you'll enjoy if you liked The Disreputable History:

Donna Tartt's The Secret History Do you enjoy pretentious yet somehow appealing narrators? Over-privileged undergraduates? Drug-induced Bacchanalian rites in the woods near the university for said over-privileged undergraduates? And last but certainly not least, a murder mystery and a love quadrangle? Run to the bookstore or library ASAP to pick up Tartt's novel.

Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics I can easily see Pessl's Blue van Meer and Lockhart's Frankie L-B being BFFs (that's right; for-ev-er, The Sandlot style. If you don't understand this reference I pity you. Watch The Sandlot immediately.). Both are incredibly intelligent young women searching for answers. Blue's search is, however, fraught with more danger and suspense, as well as some of the most involved footnotes recently published. Challenging yet enjoyable, my favorite combination.


  1. I love both Special Topics and the Secret History, so maybe I will read this Disreputable History book. But only if you guys promise not to shriek too loudly about it! I'm assuming there's a copy of it in my apartment somewhere...

  2. Alanna disappeared with my copy! But I miss it, so I will work on tracking down another.