Last year I fell in love with Frankie by Shivaun Plozza (Penguin, 2016). I have to reread her before book group at the end of the month. We’re discussing the Shortlist of the CBCA Book of The Year for Older Readers and I’m talking up Frankie. This is what I blogged last year:

Frankie is funny and loyal and full of flaws. She tries so hard to overcome the shit life she got dealt but it’s a struggle.

“They shove a violent book like Macbeth down our throats but then get all antsy when you break a dickhead’s nose with it.”

Too often Frankie’s anger overwhelms her. She wants to channel her rage differently, to banish the descending red dots, but there are false starts and suspension from school.

Then she finds out what her half brother Xavier gets up to, the third time they meet:

The ‘oh, didn’t I mention I’m a criminal?’ conversation. The ‘well, you can’t fight genetics’ conversation.

The genetics of Frankie’s rage are always lying in wait. Especially when she accidently throws out the first edition vinyl worth more than she will ever see in her life. Turns out it didn’t fall off the back of a truck after all. Any book with Joy Division’s nazi inspired drummer boy playing a starring role has my vote. (They got rid of drummer boy asap, but not their nazi inspired name.) Frankie is right to worship the legendary Ian Curtis.

When Xavier disappears, sometime after that third meeting, Frankie sets out to find him. The cops aren’t much help, but they just arrested Nate, Xavier’s partner in crime. Frankie realises giving Nate an alibi will make him available for interrogation by herself. And Nate’s drop dead gorgeous, which overrides any qualms about lying to the police.

“Man, morality is so blurry.”

There’s a lot to find out about Xavier, like his exceptional street art skills and exactly how long has he been living in Melbourne? Then there’s Nate to figure out. Why does he live in a squat when his blue eyes could sear Frankie’s soul? And how can Frankie solve all these mysteries when she’s grounded and trying not to let her Aunt Vinnie down for the millionth time.

“What’s that sound? Oh, nothing. Just my heart exploding into a million pieces.”

And that’s the sound of my heart shattering when I read the ending. No and no and these things are not allowed!? I should have seen it coming, but Frankie’s adventures distracted me.

I like the cover design by Marina Messiha, she always delivers. But I thought Frankie had darker skin than the very pale girl on the cover.

Frankie

“I’m trying to cut down on obscene gestures.”