Wednesday, January 25, 2012

REVIEW: The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, by Caroline Preston

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, by Caroline Preston. Published 2011 by Ecco.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a delightful little trifle, a novel told in vintage ephemera- fashion plates, ads, photos, postcards and more. It tells the story of Miss Frances Pratt, a young lady of lesser means from New Hampshire. She meets a dashing gentleman, absconds to Vassar and then to Paris. She has a scrapbook and an old typewriter when she leaves high school in 1920 which she uses to record her adventures and make her way in the world.

Caroline Preston tells Frankie's story with concise, witty first-person narration, so that we feel that we are reading Frankie's own diary. We see her insecurities and mishaps, and her tentative steps towards adulthood. We share in her friendship with the glamorous Allegra Wolf, her Vassar roommate, and her near-romance with Allegra's brother. We see her time in Paris and what happens when she comes back, and her ultimate happy ending as well.

The book is charming and unusual. The pictures illustrate rather than tell the story, so while it's tempting to describe it as a graphic novel for adults, it really isn't. Preston has written this sparse tale with skill such that neither the characterizations nor the story feel thin. Nonetheless, The Scrapbook is a quick read, maybe two cups of tea long with enough left over for a scone if one were in the mood. It's a fun, funny and sweet book with a winning heroine at its helm. Pick it up for a light, enjoyable and visually engaging read.

The American Library Association agrees and awarded the book a 2012 Alex Award for Best Adult Book for Teens!

Rating: BEACH
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FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.