Thursday, November 05, 2009

What We’re Reading: Teens’ Top Ten

I’m working my way down the list of the 2009 Teens’ Top Ten books, recently announced during Teen Read Week (see blog below for the entire list). I’m having a hard time doing it, however, because the books are all so popular that I can never find one on the shelves! This week, however, I managed to grab The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart, in between check-outs. I have wanted to read it ever since we bought it for the collection, just because I love the name. I’m happy to say that the book lives up to its quirky and provocative title.

Frances Rose “Frankie” Landau-Banks is a legacy girl at Alabaster Prep, an "exclusive, expensive and academically rigorous" boarding school in Massachusetts. She has blossomed during the summer from a gawky freshman with frizzy hair to a sleek sophomore who, on her first day back, attracts the attention of senior Matthew Livingston. Golden boy Matthew never before noticed her existence, even though she was introduced to him at least twice last year by her older sister. Becoming Matthew’s girlfriend admits her to his inner circle, and she soon discovers that she has fallen in love with his friends and the relaxed and secure atmosphere they project.

But Frankie soon realizes that she is excluded from something all the others are a part of, just by reason of gender: The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Her father was a Basset back when he was at Alabaster, but it’s an all-male secret society, and Frankie can’t pry any details out of her father or her new friends. Her frustration, combined with a class she’s taking called “Cities, Art and Protest” and a little inspiration from P. G. Wodehouse galvanizes Frankie: She’s smarter than the Bassets, she’s more creative, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make everyone at Alabaster sit up and take notice. Frankie, with her irreverence and daring, is a great addition to Lockhart’s list of heroines.

E. Lockhart is also the YA author of the Ruby Oliver books (The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys), as well as Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, and How to Be Bad (with Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle). Disreputable History was also a Printz Award honor book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of the Cybils Award for best young adult novel. If you want to know more about E-is-for-Emily and her books, go to

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