Thursday, March 10, 2016

Review: Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

Title: Frankie
Author: Shivaun Plozza
Publisher: Penguin Teen Australia
Publication Date: 23 March 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

I received this ARC at the Penguin Teen Australia Live event in Brisbane.

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. (summary from Goodreads)

Frankie is an emotional, hilarious, heartfelt read that is sure to leave its mark.

Anyone who reads my reviews regularly knows I'm a big fan of contemporary YA. I like that their stories and characters are relatable, thought-provoking and hard-hitting. I find I'm sometimes more likely to be emotionally invested. All of this is definitely the case with Frankie. Right from the first page I was hooked. I just wanted to read it all in one sitting - and I could have, except I'd chosen Frankie to read as part of a challenge, to read a book entirely in public. So for a few days I carried Frankie everywhere with me, reading it on trains, in the car, at the shopping center, in the cinema before a movie began - anytime I was out and about and could reasonably shove my nose in the book. It made me very unsociable! It was an interesting choice to read in public. I was very, very emotionally invested in Frankie, so I often got frustrated, sighing loudly; I'd laugh, roll my eyes, even growl, and I definitely cried. More than once I looked up from my book and noticed I was getting certain 'looks'! It was worth it. Plozza has written a great story. She explores the realities of low income and social class life, of drugs, of crime, of prejudice and injustice in a way that is simply real. What I loved is how Plozza always showed two sides. Just one example of what I mean for instance, you'd think the jerk is just a giant bully but then Plozza would provide a glimpse that would make you think twice. She wouldn't excuse certain actions, but she highlighted the fact that not everything could be taken at face value. Frankie is all about how not everything is straight black or white, there's usually more to it, something deeper. It's something Frankie learns and it's something Plozza does so simply and yet with such impact. If I could change one thing about Frankie, it would be that there was more to that ending. Not just because I loved it and could handle reading more (which is certainly true) but because so much happens and I would have liked to read more of the aftermath. Very quickly towards the end Frankie faces many truths, about her mother, her half-brother, her future at school, her own life, and then we get a prologue that outlines the general 'after'. It's great in the way that life goes on, right? But I'd have appreciated just a little more closure.

What makes Frankie so great is Plozza's characters, most especially Frankie herself. Frankie is fantastic, with a strong, unique and hilarious voice. She is angry and afraid and it's a gut-punching combination. From start to finish I was 100% with Frankie. Even when she made some seriously questionable choices and I wanted to shake some sense into her, I was still with her. It's hard not to be. What's clear to readers is just how vulnerable Frankie is and that really resonates throughout the story. That insight makes it really easy to relate to Frankie. Even though you might not have been in any kind of situation like Frankie's, Plozza's writing makes it easy to just get it and to feel it. I think it helps too that so many of the secondary characters stand out as real too. I think we've all known Nate's, Bill's, Cara's, Steve's, Mark's, Ava's, Xander's, at some stage in life. Vinnie, Frankie's Aunt, is awesome. Her love and support of Frankie truly shines and it was nice to read. The relationship between Frankie and Nate is also great. Yay, actual romantic development! After some of the books I've read recently it was brilliant to read about a young female character falling in love but not being completely overtaken by that romance! Nate is an interesting character, one with questionable morals and motivations but whose heart is, ultimately, in the right place. His and Frankie's volatile interactions were amazing and so funny. The same can be said of Frankie's friendship with Cara. Their moments together were sweet, honest and funny. Cara is part of the wish that there was more closure to Frankie. There's a great and tough moment between them and I would've liked to see Frankie understand that more and work on it rather than lumping it in as another thing to deal with. Xander, Frankie's half-brother, is a whole 'nother thing. Him and his relationship with Frankie drive a fair amount of the story and it's definitely touching.

Honest and wrenching, Frankie is one to read. Plozza's plot and characters will grab you. 


While you're here, it's my Blogiversary this week! Yay! I'm hosting a giveaway to celebrate! Be sure to enter!  


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