Contemporary, Young Adult

And now I’m gruntled

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Skinny: When Frankie comes back for her sophomore year all grown up (ie developed) she catches the eye of the hottest guy in school, Matthew. Elated when they begin dating, Frankie quickly falls in with his friends and feels like she is on top of the world. But when Matthew begins ditching her to hang out with his friend Alpha, Frankie becomes suspicious. After secretly following him one night she discovers his secret: he is a member of a secret, elite society of their boarding school called the Loyal Order of the Basset Hound. As she begins to learn more about this organization, and tires of not being anything more than “the girlfriend”, Frankie begins a plot that she believes will prove her worth. (I stole the end of this line from Forever Young Adult’s review of this book because it’s totally awesome!).

BFF?: If I could choose a BFF out of all my literary BFFs, Frankie Landau Banks would be a top contender! She’s smart, she’s savvy, she’s independent and free-thinking. Frankly, she’s all you could ever want in a girl! However, all of it is hidden behind this honest-to-goodness high school girl. She’s insecure in her relationship with Matthew, she’s torn between wanting him to want her and wanting him to respect her. Her feelings towards her place at school, in her family, and in Matthew’s group of friends are all over the place. I love her self-arguments she has; they remind me exactly of what I go through on a daily basis!

Readability: After reading this I’ve decided that I’m a huge fan of 3rd person narration. There’s something soothing about it, something that makes you feel like someone is telling you a bedtime story. Remember when that used to happen?! But what’s best about Frankie is that while the book is told in 3rd person, we don’t miss out on the interactions and the dialogue that is honestly spot-on teenager. Albeit snooty rich smart teenager, but teenager nonetheless.

Crush Level: BOOOOO
While Matthew and Frankie had this cutesy May-December (he was a senior; she was a sophomore) relationship, I honestly couldn’t stand the guy. I probably would’ve been like Frankie and had it major bad for him, but we’re not talking about 17 year old Candice. We’re talking about less than 6 months shy of 30 Candice. And she saw from the get go that he was bad news. This isn’t to say that he was a bad guy. He was just a typical 17 year old male who dated a 15 year old girl. He thought he was smarter than her, better than her, more grown up than her… She wasn’t his smart, savvy, independent and free-thinking equal; she was his cute sophomore girlfriend. While Frankie might have warred her feelings towards him, I certainly did not.

Bonus Points:
Chilton Alabaster Prep

Seriously, the entire time I was reading  all I could think about was how much the setting reminded me of Chilton from Gilmore Girls. The overly smart, rich students; the old academic building; the creepy secret societies… everything was just very Chiltonesque.

Making up words

I’m pretty sure that if you’ve been following my blog you’ve noticed that I sometimes make up words. (see “Chiltonesque” above) Frankie discovers a book by Wodehouse and his theory of “neglected positives” so she begins using what she deems to be “imaginary neglected positives.” Like grunteld. It reminds me of that scene in 10 Things I Hate About You when they ask “I know you can be overwhelmed. You can be underwhelmed. But can you ever just be whelmed?”

Secret Societies

I’m a HUGE fan of secret societies, especially when they’re in college or high school. I always wanted to belong to one. However, I would only want to belong to the Bassets if a) it wasn’t all boys, b) if Frankie was the leader, and c) if we did awesome things like jumping off a building with umbrellas.

Epic Pranks

Frankie secretly emails the Bassets under the guise of their leader and tells them ideas for these epic pranks that she’s planned. Of course she gets no credit, but her ingenious ideas are quickly the talk of the school. Some of the pranks pulled include turning the dome on one of the building into a giant boob, dozens of light-up basset hounds wearing Santa hats  lining the windows of the gym, and putting bras all over portraits of old headmasters and alumni.

Commencement Speech: There are certain reasons that certain books touch certain places in our lives. And then there’s The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks. While I loved every minute of reading it, it wasn’t until days after that it finally sank in and I realized just HOW MUCH I love it. Frankie is a burgeoning feminist who is still very much a woman. Yeah, I know that’s confusing, but women are confusing. Seeing her flip flopping between wanting to demand her boyfriend respect her and wanting him just to kiss her was like looking in a mirror. I love when books show me myself!

In all honesty, I’m having a hard time writing this part of my review because there are so many wonderful things I want to say but can’t seem to form them into thoughts. DHFLB is an honest look into a teenager’s life, the struggles and issues she faces on a daily basis, and the schemings of a smart, tough, spunky girl who in the end just wants to be respected. We’ve all been that girl at some point (minus the scheming part… maybe) and I think that’s what makes Frankie Landau-Banks so universally wonderful.

Yearbook Quote: “It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people.

She will not be simple and sweet. She will not be what people tell her to be. That Bunny Rabbit is dead.

(Oh hell yeah!)

Superlatives – Best look at the confusion that is feminism

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9 thoughts on “And now I’m gruntled”

  1. I’ve been planning on reading this at some point (and the Ruby Oliver series, too), so I’m really glad to hear that this is an extra special book. The whole feminism theme is up my alley!

    Also, when I saw your post title all I could think of was the “whelmed” scene, too. hehehe


  2. Yeah! I love this book. We are doing a week devoted to Audrey Wait! By Robin Benway and I always think of her and e. Lockhart in the same sentence because they both read smarter than a lot of authors – and nail teen dialogue.

    Your Gilmore Girls pic made me soooo happy too!


  3. Funny you should say how much you enjoyed the third person narration of this book, because I felt the same way (I just read the book last week!). So many teen books are told in first person narration (at least the ones I’ve been reading lately) and it was great to read a book in third person – especially as wonderfully written as this one was!


  4. Oh, I’m so glad you loved this book. E Lockhart is fabulous. I only wish I were that cool. Fun fact: a couple of weeks ago I was watching Jeopardy with the family (nerds) and Alexs Trebek said, in his ever so snooty way, that it was possible to be DISgruntled, however not possible to be gruntled. I was pretty certain at that moment that Alex was a closet Frankie fan.


  5. I’m so glad you love this book; it’s one of my favourites.

    One thing I’d like to comment on. You said, “Frankie is a burgeoning feminist who is still very much a woman.” I’m not sure I really understand this comment. Most feminists ARE women. The two are the opposite of contradictory.


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