If I could press any book into the hands of my teenaged self, it would likely be The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. The novel is funny, thoughtful, well-written, and most of all, feminist as fuck. It’s the kind of book you want to buy multiple copies of and disseminate to everyone you know.
The Disreputable History details Frankie’s journey from quiet freshman to criminal mastermind sophomore at Alabaster Preparatory Academy, a private boarding school in northern Massachusetts. At the beginning of her 10th year, she starts dating the leader of the school’s all male, all upperclassmen secret society, The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds (yes, they are as ridiculous as they sound). Frankie is smart, clever, and determined to not be left out on all the fun just because of her age, gender, and (possibly) her religion.
It’s just a short little YA book, but much like Frankie herself, it should not be underestimated. The Disreputable History contains plenty of complex characters, a page-turning plot, and social commentary on everything from sexism to classism. Frankie is the sort of character that sees the inane rules and injustices of the world and instead of capitulating, tries to bend the world to her will. “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 to be.”