Thursday, 24 March 2016 / No comments

Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

Title: Frankie
Author: Shivaun Plozza
Publisher: Penguin Teen Australia
Date of Publication: March 23rd 2016
Source: Purchased by reviewer


Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend or her aunt who's tired of giving second chances...When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie's half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn't want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes … and secrets of his own. Frankie's search for the truth might change her life, or cost her everything.

Frankie is that wonderful creation, a difficult, troubled character who does terrible things, that you absolutely fall in love with anyway. She is in trouble at school, having used a book of Shakespeare to rearrange someone's face, and her aunt, Vinnie, is close to washing her hands of her. When Xavier appears claiming to be her half-brother she is intrigued, but also wary. She hasn't exactly had the best experience with family. But just as she's getting to know Xavier, he disappears. The cops aren't interested in helping and no one else wants to know, apart from Nate. The only problem is, Nate doesn't exactly walk on the right side of the law, and his involvement could get Frankie into even more trouble. Can she find her brother, avoid expulsion from school and avoid her aunt killing her? Probably not, but she's going to try anyway.

I absolutely adored this book. Frankie is such a flawed character, but I fell for her instantly. I loved her voice and I laughed out loud at several points in the book. But I also felt her loneliness and insecurity. She is a character desperate for love but far too scared to allow anyone to love her. She pushes everyone away for fear of being hurt.

Nate is another flawed character. An admitted burglar, he's still incredibly likeable. He goes out of his way to help Frankie, even when it means putting himself at risk.

This is such a Melbourne story, populated by believable characters and featuring local landmarks and Melbourne's famous street art. Although I don't know Collingwood as well as other inner city suburbs, I really recognised the setting of the story.

I often find first person present tense narratives difficult. There is often a tendency to slip out of the present tense, or it feels clumsy. That's totally not the case here. I didn't even register that it was present tense until well into the book. It's so well written and put together. I wasn't sure about the cover at first, but it totally makes sense in the context of the story.

This is a dark, gritty story. It's not all sunshine and roses, and it's all the better for that. It's beautiful, confronting and compelling.

I totally fell in love with Frankie and read this in one evening/morning.  Highly recommended.

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