By Lisette Prendé
I mean Matthew Livingston is not just anyone! He’s Matthew Livingston! The hottest guy on campus and the boy Frankie has had a crush on since forever. And he wants to date her! It doesn’t matter that he never noticed her around before, when she was a skinny nerd. It doesn’t matter that he kind of belittles her and tells her how to act and think. Nor does it matter that he passes her off as adorable and harmless and blows her off to hang out with his friends. Or does it? What do you do when you finally get what you want and realise it goes against everything you stand for?
Well in Frankie’s case you take a stand, in a quiet, stealthy and purely genius way! You fight back with wit and intellect and you dare to challenge the preconceived notion of what it means to be a girl in the 2010s.
Frankie Landau-Banks is the post-millennium Nancy Drew. She’s smart (Frankie talks us through at least half a chapter on the neglected positives in the English language: “I’m totally (dis)turbed!’), she’s sassy and she’s a super sleuth but above all she’s a bold new voice for the modern feminism movement, allowing young women to realise that it is okay to be both intelligent and sexy. And it is indeed okay to be smarter than the boys and to challenge them to rethink the sans-women scholarly ideals of their forefathers.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, epistolary in places, reads like a Wes Anderson film: quirky, twee but also finely crafted with skill and purpose. The narrative is charming. Though present and definitely heard by the reader, it does not distract or act as a barrier. It only adds to the story with its distinct, humorous tone.
In Frankie Landau-Banks, E Lockhart has gifted us an intelligent, relatable heroine of literature. I sure hope this is only the first we hear of Frankie, I feel like she has a heck of a lot more to say!
By E. Lockhart
Allen & Unwin