How could a scrapbook possibly amount to a novel? Amazingly, Caroline Preston pulls off not only a visual feast of 1920s memorabilia that manages to amuse and charm but that simultaneously fleshes itself into a coming-of-age novel with a witty narrator and engaging plot. The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt spans most of the 1920s and is so much more than a graphic novel. Using a mix of media – photos, newspaper and magazine ads, food labels, recipes, street maps, poems, handwritten notes, fashion plates, yearbook pictures, college term paper grades, graduation programs, Coney Island ride tickets, valentines, – and interspersed with snippets of narrative typed on a vintage Corona – combining Frankie’s (sometimes self-deprecatory) thoughts, conversations, all the while providing context to the visual material – the novel is presented in true scrapbook form. We meet Frankie in her hometown of Cornish, NH just before she begins her college days at Vassar. Through her story, we travel beyond her quiet New England town to Poughkeepsie NY to Greenwich Village and to Paris aboard the cruise ship riding 3rd class. We meet Frankie’s family, her crushes, her friends, and her true love. She is such a likeable protagonist and the story moves along with such ease that it is quite easy to read in one sitting. What surprised me more than anything when I finished this book was just how well-developed Frankie was as a character and how wistful I was that I had no more of her scrapbook left to read. I was reluctant to let go of Frankie’s voice in my head and her story on the page.
- review by Colleen Mullally, Reference Librarian
Check It Out
Click here to check the library’s availability of books by Caroline Preston.
Get a feel for the book by visiting Caroline Preston’s website. Watch an interview with Caroline Preston as included with the Huffington Post review (here) and read the review from NPR (here). The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt received a starred review from Kirkus and selected by them as one of the year’s best books for historical fiction (here). Interested in other works by Caroline Preston? Check out our Book Buzz review (here) of Gatsby’s Girl.