Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.
Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.
This is the story of how she got that way.
Design – ? Rating – 5/5
This cover is amazingly perfect for the story and I really wish they’d never made any alternate covers for it. This is the kind of simplicity that is really great as a book cover. Every little detail is wonderful and it’s so much better than just a stock photo. I love the simple color scheme. That basset hound wax seal is utterly perfect. I really like how you can see the papery texture of the envelope. The fancy way that Frankie’s name is written is nice because it looks like an envelope with her name on it.
The Disreputable History is a story about Frankie refusing to be the good rule-following girl that it seems everyone wants her to be. She wants to be noticed and respected, especially by her own boyfriend, whose ‘secret’ society Frankie is fascinated by and desperate to be a part of. Where the boys just want to hang out and do a prank now and then, Frankie sees a greater potential to the club she’s banned from due to her gender.
- Frankie – Frankie is highly intelligent and highly determined. Does it seem like an unimportant goal to force your way into your boyfriend’s secret club? Maybe, but to Frankie it’s so much more than that. Frankie sees a tradition of fun and pranking that she will never be allowed to participate in because she’s a girl. She also sees a bunch of guys getting drunk and wasting the group’s potential on pranks that don’t ever have a lasting impact. A lot of the reviews I’ve been seeing of this book are very critical of the way Frankie analyzes everything Matthew says and does when they’re together. But she’s only 15 and Matthew’s her 2nd boyfriend. We don’t pop out of the womb as all-knowing goddesses with fully formed opinions on things like feminism. Expecting Frankie to be the perfect girl who somehow doesn’t care about or think about what boys think of her, at the age of 15, is ridiculous. Guys have recently started paying attention to her, so of course Frankie is going to wonder why.
- the pranks – Frankie’s hostile takeover of the Basset Hounds results in some great pranks. While the pranks the guys came up with were fun, Frankie has much more in mind. Although she struggles with being the only one who knows that she is the one who orchestrates the pranks, Frankie does try to use the Hounds to call attention to issues at the school. She grows increasingly frustrated when no one, least of all the Hounds themselves, sees her reasoning behind the pranks – the things she wants changed. Frankie controls the guys, but they’re the ones having fun doing the pranks while she’s on the sidelines talking herself blue in the face while trying to explain to her peers the symbolism of each prank.
- Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds – Frankie has grown up hearing her dad’s stories about the Hounds – the secret society no one can seem to stop talking about. She knows that she’s smarter than most of the guys at her school, so it really bothers Frankie when people like her father tell her not to concern herself with this – that the Hounds is an exclusively male group for no reason other than tradition. So Frankie decides to prove herself smarter by decoding the Hounds’ song and finding the written history of the group. While Frankie manages to take control of the group, she’s not a true part of it, and despite everything, that hurts.
- gender equality – This book does a great job of working points about gender equality seamlessly into the story. The members of The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds are all rich white males. They attend a competitive boarding school. They are completely unconcerned with changing the status quo because the status quo has them sitting at the top. they choose pranks with no underlying meanings because they can. These guys don’t need a break in any way – everything already goes their way. It takes someone like Frankie to decide that they should attach bras to the portraits of all the former headmasters in order to call attention to the fact that those leaders were all males. This is something that has never concerned the Hounds, and even after that prank, all they do is giggle about bras while Frankie tries to explain the point.
- false positives – Apparently many people like Frankie’s use of made-up words, which she calls neglected positives, but I do not. An example: sheveled, the opposite of disheveled. I found Frankie’s words annoying, especially because no one knows what she’s talking about when she uses one. So, each time Frankie uses one of her crazy words, the entire conversation, scene, and book must stall while she tells her friend what she is using the word to mean. To me, Frankie’s use of these words makes her seem much younger than 15.
- Frankie + Matthew – I’m not too sure what the benefits of this relationship are for either party. Frankie seems to spend much of her time resenting Matthew for being a member of the Basset Hounds and for not telling her about it. While Matthew doesn’t seem to respect Frankie, as she’s a sophomore whom he began noticing when she fell off her bike. This seems like a relationship that they’re both in just because they feel like they should be and not because they actually enjoy each other’s company. Frankie does spend a good amount of time analyzing what Matthew says and does, while it seems like Matthew doesn’t spend much time thinking of Frankie at all.
Matthew had called her harmless. Harmless. And being with him made Frankie feel squashed into a box – a box where she was expected to be sweet and sensitive (but not oversensitive); a box for young and pretty girls who were not as bright or powerful as their boyfriends. A box for people who were not forces to be reckoned with.
Frankie wanted to be a force. – pg. 214
Matthew didn’t care enough to think through the symbolism of the latest prank. What they cared about, really, she thought to herself, was their secrecy. Their clubbiness.
She could command them, outwit them; she could know more of their history than any of them ever would – but they would preserve that secrecy and clubbiness against her even so. – pg. 296