Author: E. Lockhart
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Publication Date: 2008
I just finished listening to The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart yesterday. I was waiting and waiting to see what would ultimately happen to Frankie in the end! Frankie has had enough of being on the fringe of her new boyfriend’s group of friends and their secret society, that she takes matters into her own hands. She trails him to their private meetings and then creates an e-mail account that allows her to impersonate one of the club’s leaders. Frankie wants to desperately to fit in and is hoping she can prove to them that just because she is a girl, it doesn’t mean she can’t be one of them.
The whole time I was listening and wondering how it would all turn out for Frankie. I’ve read The Boyfriend List: (15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver) and Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart before and I remember finishing The Boyfriend List and having to convince myself it was a happy ending. I was wondering if this book would have the same type of ending…and it did.
Both books have happy, real-life endings for the girls. But the endings are not what I’m used to in books or movies or TV. It got me thinking about how much society tells the tale of girls who try and get the guy. Girls who we read about or watch and just wait for them to get their guy and get happy. I admit, I love these stories and I always want to see how she ends up with her guy. A perfect example is Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks which I recently read by Lauren Myracle. I rooted for Carly to finally open her eyes and realize who her true ironic love boodle was. The same goes for Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. I can’t help but hope and wish and read to find out if she gets the guy.
When I read books like The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks or Kate Messner’s middle grade books The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. and Sugar and Ice, they make me stop and have to reassure myself that just because the climax and resolution of the books don’t center on the girl getting the guy, they still are happy endings. It’s kind of a weird feeling to finish a book and have to counsel myself but that’s the feeling I’m left with. I love all of these books and I’m starting to appreciate them more and more for being solid examples of stories about girls who do what they have to do, apart from their crushes or boyfriends. I still love the gushy love stories, but I recognize how I had way too much of that when I was growing up and this subtle message of girl power: I’m a girl and here’s what I can do in spite of or regardless of boys is needed in middle grade and young adult literature. Life isn’t a constant romance and books or movies and television that portray that foster an unrealistic expectation for girls. If happily-ever-after love stories are all girls are reading, I think we're setting them up to be disillusioned in real life.
I won’t stop reading the books where the girl gets the guy but I’m glad to know there are books that don’t center all around the girl getting the guy and I’m excited to read those, too.
Do you know any books like The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks with a strong female protagonist who doesn’t necessarily end up with the guy? Do you get this same feeling when you read them? What’s your opinion on these types of books?