All a character needs is a little family frustration, an open mind to the concept of Panopticon (a circular prison with cells arranged around a central well, from which prisoners could at all times be observed), and a few interactions with a secret society group from a prestigious prep school and viola, I’m hooked! The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart begins with a letter from Frankie, aka Bunny Rabbit, to the Board of Directors from Alabaster Preparatory-her high school in Northern Massachusetts. The confession states her responsibility for the campus disruptions such as the Canned Beet Rebellion and the Abduction of the Guppy, just to name a few, caused by the Order of the Basset Hounds (a legendary secret society of Alabaster Prep). Each brilliant hoax was strategically crafted from a place in Frankie’s psyche that can’t understand her exclusion from her boyfriend’s all-male society and why she feels like she’s only to be seen and not heard. Her feigning contentment keeps her boyfriend coming back for more while her true inner-self keeps the readers turning the pages.
Frankie can’t seem to get the props she deserves from her single, overprotective mother nor her father- a lung doctor who was more concerned with his network of Ivy League cronies than he was with lung disease. Adding Alessandro Tesorieri or Alpha (dog) to the recipe gives the spicy ingredient needed to layer the plot flavors into a robust, motive driven story. Alpha’s fragile wealth is reflected in his deeply rooted insecurities that are evident through his behaviors and domineering conversations with his lesser yet affluent stable hounds. Frankie ends up with the potential to sabotage Alpha’s future since the hounds believe Alpha is the mastermind behind the pranks and Alpha wants them to believe it. As long as “he” doesn’t get caught. And, of course, “he” does get caught. But Frankie is wise. She already demonstrated she is smarter than any of them so there is nothing more to prove.
I want my daughters and every girl I know to share the same wisdom as Frankie. In the last page it says, “It is better to be alone, she figures, than to be with someone who can’t see who you are. It is better to lead than to follow. It is better to speak up than stay silent. It is better to open doors than to shut them on people. She will not be simple and sweet. She will not be what people tell her she should be. That Bunny Rabbit is dead.” I just wish I met Frankie a lot earlier in my life. She’s an inspiration to all!