Frankie by Shivaun Plozza
I was drawn to the novel Frankie from the get go, especially as Melina Marchetta had endorsed the title character as ‘gutsy’ on the front cover. And if anyone knows about gutsy women, it’s Marchetta, author of the brilliant Looking For Alibrandi. It was also the fact that the blurb said Frankie had broken some guy’s nose – I was in!
Frankie had a pretty crappy start to life. Born to a drug-addicted mother and absent father, Frankie was left at the Collingwood Children’s Farm while patting the animals at the age of 4. One minute her mother was there, the next she was gone. But that was around 14 years ago and Frankie is now in her last year of school. Correction, she was in her final year of school until she broke a classmate’s nose with The Complete Shakespeare and got an extended suspension. However, school is the last thing Frankie could care about ever since she received a phone call from a boy called Xavier who claims he is her stepbrother. And, just like what happened with her mother, one minute Xavier is in her life and the next he is missing, and Frankie’s search for the truth could have devastating consequences.
Marchetta’s use of the word ‘gutsy’ to describe Frankie is spot on. While she is a tough character to like at times, especially with everything she puts her caring aunt, whom she lives with, through, you realise that the life she has been dealt has been pretty tough, making you sympathise and understand her actions. This is a great debut novel from a fantastic new Australian author. It has everything YA fiction needs to be captivating: mystery, tough women, annoyingly cute bad boys, sarcasm and humour. Highly recommended for ages 13 and up.
Katherine Dretzke is a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.