Parents' Guide to

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

By Stephanie Dunnewind, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Boarding school rebel story more insightful than most.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 12+

A clever, spirited book with positive and feminist messages for young teenage girls

This National Book Award finalist novel has many positive messages, especially for teenage girls. The main character (Frankie) is a tenth grader dealing with a seemingly impenetrable all-male Secret Society at her elite private school, as well as a boyfriend who often views her possessively and doesn't truly see her as a person. Yet, she perseveres and uses her wit and intellect to stand her ground and make change. Frankie's achievements are just as much how she demands that her alpha-male boyfriend and her boyfriend’s friends be respectful of her and how she is not afraid to discourse when she disagrees with them as they are the pranks she pulls off. She sees an all-male Secret Society— a bastion of exclusivity and patriarchy — and outwits and outperforms them. (Of note: the young men are not simply portrayed as villains, but rather the book offers a nuanced portrayal of teenage boys, too.) Also: Common Sense's review erroneously indicates that "Positive Messages" are "Not present". The Common Sense review discusses “putting bras on school portraits” more than once -- in a way that does not capture the context of a young girl facing a storied, patriarchal school. Instead the Common Sense review inaccurately portrays the girl as brainless and silly, which is ironically exactly what Frankie fights hard to prove wrong. Also, the main character is Jewish. This is not a huge plot point, yet does come up occasionally as the book is stated to take place in a largely Protestant school. This form of representation where being Jewish is not a huge point of conflict but is still indelibly part of her character is an important type of representation.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 12+

Delightful girl power

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and so have the girls I've recommended it too. I would say 7th or 8th grade+. I don't usually like "girlie" books (as I have sons), but this one was a delightful read.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (3):

As a boarding school fable, THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS works pretty well. As a grrrl power social manifesto, not so much. Lockhart seems to be grasping for a Message -- she throws in class lectures, P.G. Wodehouse, and one of Frankie's papers on the Cacophony Society -- but never follows through with Frankie actually doing anything that matters. An omniscient narrator informs readers of Frankie's deviousness, but Frankie's achievements are putting bras on school portraits, sitting at the senior table when she's a sophomore (gasp), and making up words (a self-conscious, albeit whimsical, mannerism that undermines her insistence that people take her seriously).

Enjoy this for its clever dialog (a New York boy insists any pizza outside city limits be renamed a DOD -- disk of dough), elaborate pranks, and occasional psychological insights. By the end, though, readers may feel like that boy eating a non-New York pizza: not quite satisfied.

Book Details

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