E. Lockhart’s, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, could not be a more fitting work for Gen Z, which is now fully submerged in third-wave feminism and awareness of gender inequality. A brilliantly worded novel bound to get you to start a grassroots version of the Women’s March in your hometown, or to take a close look at the deeper meaning behind things your beau’s casual remark, Frankie’s perspective and fearlessness demolishes everything we thought we knew about tradition, sexism, and the power of, what Hillary Clinton would gladly deem, a fellow nasty woman.
Frankie Landau-Banks, a rising sophomore at Alabaster Preparatory Academy in Northern Massachusetts, is at odds with herself. Until this point, she’s been the scrawny, bushy-haired, version of her older sister, Zada, and was perfectly fine with flying under the radar. Now, with help from some leave-in-conditioner and puberty lessons coming to life, Frankie’s world of reading, studying, Debate Club, transforms into that of boyfriends, makeup, and old-fashioned sleuthing.
After following her lacrosse-stick-wielding, keg-party-throwing, it-boy sweetheart Matthew Livingston when he ditches her at a party, she discovers a secret society of Alabaster boys -dubbed, “The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds,” Matthew appears to lead the effort to revamp their wilting reputation as the school’s most controversial and mysterious secret society.
With familial connections to the Order, Frankie single-handedly and surreptitiously gains control of the Basset Hounds and argues the hierarchy, views, and traditions of the school through pranks and artfully curated statements.
All the while, she tries to hang on to her rocky relationship with Matthew, consider her changing views on rules and the role people expect her to play, and even confront the internal grammatical battle she has with herself, investigating neglected positive words (“gruntled” instead of “disgruntled”) in the English language.
A sharp social spectacle that remains relevant today, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks should top the reading lists of all young feminists everywhere, or, simply, those who have a passion for fantastic wordplay.