Monday, October 15, 2012

Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures Caroline Preston

In 1920, Frankie Pratt dreams of escaping her small New Hampshire town. A scholarship to Vassar looks like the ticket, but money's still too tight. Inspired by Frankie's very unsuitable boyfriend, her mother finds a way. From Vassar to New York to Paris and back, Frankie tries to find her way in a glittering world. It's a book with speak easies and exiled Russian nobles, avant garde literature, and false friends.

Format wise, it's a scrapbook. Preston collects vintage scrapbooks and used vintage pictures, ticket stubs, guide book pages, newspaper articles, advertisements and more to illustrate the story. Visually, it looks a lot like an olde time Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff, but most of the story is told in Frankie's captions and explanations of the items she's saved. Some "explanations" are more like short diary entries (never more than half a page) of memories/events/conversations to remember.

I liked Frankie. I liked how she went out an saw the world and tried to make it as a writer without too much angst about not getting married and settling down like many of her friends. There wasn't too much "this isn't what women dooooooooooo" whinging on or explanation. Also, given the format there isn't a ton of explanation/instruction/info-dumping about the time period and events, which is always a danger in historical fiction. But, there are some nods to the modern reader. Oliver goes to write for a magazine that Frankie's sure will fold in a few issues. There is much talk of the magazine as it's starting, and it's funny joke when we finally see what it is. (I won't ruin the surprise, but it's still very much in print.)

I am still unsure how I feel about the ending. My spoilery thoughts are here.

Overall, I enjoyed it. It's a great addition to the format, and while there are some great books in stuff written for adults (e Squared, The Boy Next Door) this is more literary in tone (even though it uses fewer words) and also much more visual in nature.

And while it is an adult book (or "New Adult" if that's a thing now-- it starts at the end of high school and ends 8 years later) it does have older teen appeal.

Book Provided by... my wallet

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