Frankie is a gutsy character with a lot of heart — Melina Marchetta

Shivaun Plozza has written one of the most appealing female protagonists in young adult fiction in her first novel, Frankie (Penguin, 2016).

Frankie Vega is an angry badass–she’s sassy, fierce, quick to act, and snarky. Her self-deprecating, dark humour had me snorting with laughter. Frankie’s witty one-liners and speedy back-handers are a force to be reckoned with.

But what I most enjoyed about this book was the gritty rawness evident in every element of the narrative. Every line read real: the vivid setting of down-and-out Collingwood in Melbourne; and the well-drawn, intricate characters (even the very minor ones such as Homeless Eddie, and Steve Sparrow and his dad felt fleshy and substantial).

The plot of Frankie was engaging and peppered with ugly truths about poverty, living rough, abuse and child abandonment.

The story’s premise is based on a girl searching for her missing brother. The catch? He’s a newly-found sibling and Frankie isn’t too sure about family, especially family related to her drug-addict mother, Juliet.

Frankie is so pissed at the world that her anger colours every relationship and each social interaction–from mixing with her peers at school (she broke Steve Sparrow’s nose) to her dangerous attraction to bad boy, Nate with his ‘stupidly blue eyes’ (warning: there’s a definite thread of romance running through the story).

Plozza has taken some huge societal issues and tackled them without prejudice. This is a book guaranteed to get you thinking and I warrant, you may just fall a little in love with the very flawed but oh so endearing, Frankie.

Frankie was shortlisted for the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards in 2017.

Next week I’ll be posting an interview with Shivaun Plozza so keep an eye out!