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Mother hunches by the kerosene lamp mending the boys’ socks.  She’s taken on extra nursing jobs to make ends meet.  I am so glad you escaped, she says to me.

(from The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, page 57)

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a graphic novel of sorts, featuring vintage photos, ads, postcards, and memorabilia from the 1920s collected and put together by author Caroline Preston.  Preston uses these items to tell the story of a fictional character, an aspiring writer named Frances “Frankie” Pratt, who is given a scrapbook from her mother as a high school graduation present and types a page a day on her deceased father’s old typewriter.  Frankie’s scrapbook introduces readers to her family and friends in Cornish, New Hampshire, beginning in 1920 and follows her to Vassar College, Greenwich Village, and Paris over the next eight years.

I read this book in a matter of hours, but I know I will revisit it again to admire the photos, clippings, and trinkets preserved in its pages.  Frankie’s story is an adventure of an ambitious, vivacious young woman with all the world in front of her, and Preston does a great job shaping her story to fit the mementos in the scrapbook.  It’s not a profound story, but the scrapbook makes it impressive and unique.

I was amazed at how much I was able to learn about the characters from the few words Frankie writes and sticks to the pages.  Frankie’s mother struggles to support the family, but she finds a way to send her daughter to a prestigious school, opening up a world of opportunities to Frankie.  Preston takes readers on Frankie’s journey through failed romances, an overseas voyage made exciting by a “spinster adventuress” and exiled Russian princes, and the literary scene in Paris, and she even shows Frankie’s evolution from a carefree school girl to a young woman with responsibilities — all in little scrapbook snippets.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is a fantastic “novel in pictures” that you must see in person to fully appreciate.  The pages are bright and colorful, and even though I wish there had been some variations in texture, I absolutely loved it.  Frankie Pratt is a strong heroine with modern sensibilities, one of those characters I’d love to have as a real-life friend.  Couple her charming coming-of-age story with a beautiful and fascinating scrapbook, and you have a delightful read that will keep your eyes glued to the pages.

Watch the book trailer and read about how Preston created a “scrapbook novel.”

Disclosure: I won The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt in a blog giveaway. I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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