Friday, May 23, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks


Wow!  This was a good book, and it was totally not what I was expecting!  I was expecting way more of a boyfriend-drama book, not a really cool commentary on sexism, classism, power, identity, etc.  I'm actually thinking of rereading it, but just wanted to get some thoughts out there for now.

Am I the only person who wishes Lockhart had written a meeting-- or at least a sighting-- between Frankie and Alpha in the spring after she got in trouble and before he graduated?  Something beyond the email he wrote to her that she didn't answer?  Some moment of tension or recognition between them?  Besides Frankie herself, I thought Alpha was the most fascinating character in the book, and I have to say, the tension between them was incredible, even though they were hardly ever on-screen together.  Tension of every kind, including sexual.  Alpha was the only person who (finally) recognized her for what she was-- maybe the only person in the world who ever truly saw her, and saw that he'd mislabeled her.  And even though he was despicable in so many ways-- a cocky asshole, disrespectful to women, self-destructive, dishonest, aware that he was trapped in an empty social status structure but still fighting hard to stay at the top of that structure, I found him irresistible in the same way I found Frankie irresistible.  Frankie and Alpha both SAW what was happening, they never deluded themselves.  And they saw each other's genius and each other's flaws. Is there going to be a sequel that takes place when Frankie starts her freshman year at Harvard and she and Alpha pit themselves against each other?  :o)

Okay, yes, I just crushed on Alpha, who is a total asshole, for an entire paragraph, under the guise of analyzing the book.  I admit my guilt.

Here's why I thought this was a great book: The characterizations-- what interesting and complex and well-drawn characters.  Also, the commentary on how our societies are constructed-- fascinating!  And I loved seeing a female protagonist who is insistent on being seen, being heard, being herself, not smushing herself down (even if she can't stop others from smushing her down).  I loved seeing a girl determined to grab power and figure out what power even is, what it means.

In some ways, I would like to be more like Frankie.  Less worried about being perceived as "nice"-- more willing to assume power.

I'm writing this at the end of long day of revising, so my brain is spinning a little-- hope I've made sense.  I'd love to hear what other people thought!


kristin said...

Hey, folks, I also have one question. On page 100, Elizabeth the she-wolf is described as being a bit spacey, with slurred speech, which increases her Q-factor (or something to that effect -- I actually returned the book to the library this morning, so I can't give you the exact wording). What is Q??? I just didn't get that.

Amanda said...

i realize i am never going to get around to getting my library copy back and rereading it, so i'll just post from memory.

kristin--i hope someone can answer that Q factor thing!

i loved the book for all of the same reasons kristin listed. i liked that frankie's pranks and issues with the bassets revolved around feminism (how often do we really see a feminist in YA books?). frankie really stood out to me as unique. so many of the main characters in YA books all run into one for me and i can't remember who went with which story. frankie seems like she's in a class of her own. the book was the perfect mix of fun and smart.

for other gilmore girls fans: was i the only one picturing the life and death brigade (and logan) while reading?