Author: Caroline Preston
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: October 25th, 2011
Source: Personal Copy
Caroline Preston's unique new offering speaks right to my vintage memorabilia-loving heart. When I'm in an antique store scouring forgotten treasures, I can't help but imagine the stories the objects could tell. From yellowed postcards to vintage jewelry, each item played a part in another person's life, and the mystery behind that completely fascinates me. I believe this is why I absolutely adored The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt.
When she graduates from high school in 1920, Frankie Pratt's father leaves her a scrapbook and his old Corona typewriter. In an attempt to fulfill her life dream of becoming a writer, Frankie applies to and is accepted by Vassar College. However, she must turn down the spot in order to stay home and help support the family and her recently widowed mother. It is only after an interesting summer of events that Frankie is able to take her place at Vassar and begin her journey which takes her from the artsy and intellectual streets of Greenwich Village to the cafes and bookstores of Paris.
A vast collection of postcards, letters, photographs, fabric swatches, tokens, baubles, and many more items helps the life and adventures of Frankie Pratt come alive for the reader. Preston uses the scrapbook format to tell her story which is quite unique and differs from the traditional graphic novel in that there are no drawings but only collages of real artifacts. The vintage items presented fascinated me while reading but especially once I found out that the memorabilia is real and was collected by the author over many years. I was a little afraid that I wouldn't enjoy such a different format when I first picked up this book, but once I started I couldn't put it down and finished in about 2 hours.
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt isn't a well rounded novel, nor do I think it should it be. I absolutely love the slanted piecemeal view used. Personal scrapbooks tend to be very biased in the presentation of one's life and only offer glimpses that allow others to quickly dip into one's experiences. For a modern day example, just look at someone's Facebook page or Instagram album. Even without a complete picture, I found Frankie and her story to be surprisingly well developed and enjoyed reading her strong voice describe her choices, mistakes, and successes. I can't wait to read this one again and see what new treasures I notice a second time through.
Be sure to check of Preston's website which has a longer look inside this wonderful full-color book!