I’ve been stuck in the wallowing, trouble drenched world of young adult realism. Most of them are completely bummers.
Then. . .I heaved a great sigh of warm satisfaction as I closed the pages of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. No drug addictions, no sexual or physical abuse, no parental abandonment, just some good ol’ boarding school shenanigans.
Ah, but don’t let that fool you. This book’s got some exercises in grey matter. I mean, sheesh, I had to pull up my dictionary widget to understand some of Frankie’s witty play on words. She invents words called ‘neglected positives’ by dropping prefixes left in right, sometimes linguistically correct and sometime not – I’m sure this is a nerdy thing to be stoked on so I will leave it to that.
A (potentially) less nerdy smarty-pants piece of the book is its overt feminist agenda. Frankie and her older sister Zada have many feminist discussions and I mean statements like, “the institutions of male supremacy only have real power over you if you buy into that notion.” And Frankie’s thoughts are embedded with an awareness of her subjectivity in the male dominated world. I’m never a fan of blatant indoctrination but the wonderful thing about The Disreputable History is that it complicates what it preaches.
Frankie’s desire for equal power breaks down then the hunky love interest, Mathew, saunters onto the scene. Watching her struggle with combining love (and all of Mathew’s patriarchic expectations of what love should look like) and feminism is one of the most intriguing aspects of the book.
How can you be a strong woman, love a man who is entrenched in the patriarchal structure, and have him love you back?
Maybe Frankie figures it out.