Frankie by Shivaun Plozza
Publisher: Penguin, 314 pages
Source: Net Galley
What it’s about:
Frankie lives with her Aunt Vinnie above Terry’s Kebab Emporium, her addict mother having walked out years before. Currently suspended from school for engaging in a fight with the class bully, Frankie is tough and scrappy because she has to be. As the novel opens, Frankie discovers a brother, a talented street artist, she never knew she had. However, shortly after their meeting, Xavier goes missing, and Frankie seems to be the only one who truly cares.
Frankie takes to back streets and junkie warrens searching for clues to Xavier’s whereabouts. Along the way she picks up bad boy pickpocket Nate, and together they question all who know Xavier.
What I thought:
I really like Frankie’s punk-yet-vulnerable voice. I love the author’s sensuous descriptions of street art hidden around the city; in fact, I would have enjoyed even more art. It was that rich. The author does a good–scratch that–great job of putting abandonment and its terrible legacy onto paper. Despite the tough love of Aunt Vinnie, Frankie is gripped by a sense of loss. Why wasn’t she good enough for her mother to keep? And it is this as much as anything that drives her search for the brother she never knew she had.
The middle bogged down for me in an endless Waiting for Godot loop. Blowing off school, lying to Aunt Vinnie, mistreating her childhood friend, searching for Xavier, mooning over Nate’s blue eyes, blowing off school–every day and every night the same. At times, you find yourself wanting to beat Frankie with a wet noodle for her less than stellar choices.
Although at times I felt I had entered a teen Waiting for Godot, the pitch perfect ending of Frankie brought all the plot elements–high school drama, drug dealers, working class values, first love–together and, for me, proved worth the wait.
I received a copy of Frankie from Net Galley.