E. Lockhart's 2009 Printz Speech

Author E. Lockhart isn’t afraid of a good argument, as she made clear in her acceptance speech for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks at the 2009 Michael L. Printz Awards (administered by ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association and sponsored by Booklist).  Readers have had wildly different responses to the book’s title character, a prep-school sophomore who uses her own secret, guerilla tactics to infiltrate an all-male secret society. Lockart said:

Nothing has pleased me more than to receive mail denouncing Frankie as a borderline psychotic and other mail lauding her as a feminist heroine.

Lockhart explained that for her books, and for all books, she feels that “there is no right reading.” And she spoke out against the notion of YA novels as billboards, or “moral lessons cloaked as entertainments.”

Books are meant for complicated responses . . . They are meant to be argued over, unpacked, disagreed with, loved and hated simultaneously, and reread at different times of life for different meanings.

We’d love to hear from you, our Likely Stories readers, about your own “complicated responses” to Frankie, and, while you’re at it, don’t miss the rest of E. Lockhart’s speech, in which she talks about the eclectic influences, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s stories to the real-life San Francisco Suicide Club, that helped her shape her Printz Honor Book.

[The Printz Award speeches appear on Booklist Online with the permission of YALSA.]

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5 Comments on "E. Lockhart's 2009 Printz Speech"

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  1. What a rich delight – an author who writes for developing adults, using layers of possible meanings, stimulating deeper thought in the leaders of tomorrow.

  2. palladinok@tesd.net' KPal says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story on Playaway, but I too have mixed feelings about Frankie, and even about “all-male secret societies.” I do think she played with fire and got burned (no pun intended)–that said, her character was all the more enriched, for better and for worse, by the experience.

    And some of the pranks were downright hilarious. I wonder if she had started her own secret society, how excellent it might have become under her leadership.

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