Frankie Landau-Books is a fifteen-year-old student at a prestigious East Coast boarding school. She’s recently undergone a physical transformation, from an invisible freshman to a beautiful sophomore. When she arrives back on campus after the summer, she immediately catches the eye of Matt, a handsome and popular senior, and is soon drawn into his world. She soon realizes, though, that he’s keeping secrets from her: he’s the ringleader of a secret society, and he doesn’t want her to be involved. Tired of being treated like a little girl, she decides to take on the group and make a name for herself. Things do not, as one might expect, go as planned.
I think I would have loved this book if I’d read it when I was twelve or thirteen. Frankie’s a pretty cool narrator, or at least I would have thought so back then. She’s smart, she tries to be independent, and she wants to be treated like an equal. All good things, and all important things in a female narrator. However, as an adult, I found Frankie’s character to be kind of obnoxious. She’s a bit pretentious (she does this thing where she uses fake words like “maculate,” as in the opposite of “immaculate,” which drove me nuts). For all her talk of independence, she’s kind of reliant on her boyfriend, and seems to lose herself in the relationship (not good). And she makes some really, really frustrating decisions throughout the book.
I appreciate that E. Lockhart was trying to write a more literary YA novel. That’s a good thing! But the writing often came across as self-important and the themes/message she was trying to convey were way too heavy-handed. Again, I think I probably would have missed this if I were reading it as a teenager, and I think it’s a really good thing that girls are getting more feminist heroines in their literature. But as an adult, it just felt a little…blah. There weren’t any real stakes, and the ending was completely unsatisfying.
In the end, this book was just okay. It could have been executed a lot better.