Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About this Guide
This guide includes discussion questions intended to provoke thought and
insight into the themes of the book, which include school life, feminism,
friendship, gender roles, acceptance, humor, and intellectualism.
Read Frankie's opening letter to the administration. Make predictions about
how this letter became necessary. Discuss what kind of character you think
Frankie will be.
- Frankie undergoes both a physical and an emotional transformation in the
book. Why do you think people only recognize one of them? Is it difficult
for women who are beautiful to be taken seriously? Why?
- How does Frankie first meet Alpha? Why doesn't he acknowledge their
chance encounter? Matthew, too, has no memory of having met Frankie. How
does this make her feel? Would you ave handled this situation similarly, or
- Why do you think the author chose a boarding school as the setting for
the novel that patriarchal establishment, the insular, over-privileged
life? How does the setting add to the conflicts and development of
Frankie's story? What is the most interesting thing about Alabaster?
- Discuss Frankie's romance with Porter. Do you think this contributed to
what happens with Matthew?
- Frankie gains not only a boyfriend but a whole posse of charming boys to
hang out with, too. Why is this group so much fun for her to hang around
with? Why does she find it a bit scary to invest so much of her energy into
- Frankie learns about the theory of a panopticon in her favorite class.
Do you agree with the theory that most people behave because they have this
sense of being monitored? Do you think this sense prevails in modern life
even more than in previous times? How? Why? Does it influence your own
- Why do you think secret societies exist at all? What does Frankie learn
about the Bassets as the novel progresses? Why do you think she's unable to
just let it go?
- Frankie weighs everything before she says it and considers her options
before she speaks. Are you able to do this? Do you wish you could? Do you
think most people consider their words before speaking? Are you clever or
funny like Frankie? How do people develop wit?
- Over the course of the novel Frankie seems to get more and more angry
about how other people perceive her. She's tired of pretending to be just
one thing. Have you ever felt this rage against expectations? What did you
do about it? What does Frankie do?
- Which of the pranks did you find the most compelling? Have you ever been
a prankster? What does Frankie learn about herself as she plans and executes
the pranks? How does it change everyone's perception of her?
- Frankie also rails against the unwritten codes of her school, such as
who gets to sit at the senior table. What are the unwritten codes and rules
at your own school? Has anyone ever tried to defy them? What were the
- Describe Frankie's romance with Matthew. Who would you say is in control
of the relationship? Why? How does it end between them? Do you think Matthew
is justified in his feelings? Do you think he was ever really in love with
Frankie to begin with? Why?
- Frankie wants Matthew to . . . admire her cleverness, her ambition, her
vision. That he would admit her as his equal, or even as his superior, and
love her for what she was capable of. Do you think this is even possible in
teen relationships? Is it possible in life? How many marriages that you know
operate under this banner?
- How do the others react when they learn she was the mastermind behind
the pranks? Why were they it considered brilliant when the Bassets thought
Alpha was in charge, but psychotic when Frankie is revealed as the
- In the end, Frankie concludes, It is better to be alone, than to be
with someone who can't see who you are. Do you agree with her? Do your
friends and romantic partners see who you really are or only who they expect
and want you to be? What don't you reveal to your friends and family? Do you
think men or women share their true selves more with others? Why?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Hyperion Books for Children.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.