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Frannie and Tru


Frannie and Tru

FRANNIE AND TRU, Karen Hattrup’s debut novel, follows the summer adventures of Frannie, a 15-year-old girl who hopes the arrival of Tru --- her wild cousin going into his senior year --- will break the monotony of her normal summer boredom. After overhearing a whispered conversation between her mom and dad, Frannie believes Tru is coming to stay with her family after his strict Catholic parents cannot deal with his coming out. Even though Frannie’s parents have no issues with Tru’s homosexuality, Frannie’s family has other problems: after Frannie’s dad’s work as an underwater welder dries up, her family struggles to stay afloat, avoiding even turning on the air conditioning to save as much money as possible. For Frannie’s sophomore year of high school, she will have to transfer out of her expensive Catholic school to attend the math and science magnet school instead. Tru’s last minute stay also puts a damper on Frannie’s siblings’ plans, as her twin brothers, Jimmy and Kieran, are forced to share a room. Tru, however, injects excitement into Frannie’s summer, introducing her to a new crowd of friends, including Sparrow, an older girl who works at a club, and Devon, PJ and Winston, boys one year older than Frannie who are in a local band.

“Hattrup’s work is well written and thought provoking, as well as relatable to many young girls who are struggling to find their own way in the world.”

While Frannie is introduced to new friends, she is also forced to think about discrimination and how it affects others differently than her. In having feelings for Devon, who is black, Frannie finds herself considering how the experience of a young black man differs from the experience of a middle-class white girl. Tru’s crazy personality and obsession with discovering the true meaning behind THE GREAT GATSBY demonstrates a new way of thinking for Frannie, who struggles to contemplate life in any way that is not scientific. Frannie, who is introduced to the reader as a shy, cautious girl, grows under the sometimes reckless influence of Tru, who also develops through his unique friendship with Frannie. The way Tru exposes Frannie to the outside world offers Frannie opportunities to grow and develops her perspective as a person. Frannie’s introspection on tough subjects forces the reader to follow suit, offering the reader a chance to consider what influences their own life experiences and prejudices.

FRANNIE AND TRU is a carefully crafted novel, much like Frannie’s own desire to plan her life down to the last detail. Hattrup’s work is well written and thought provoking, as well as relatable to many young girls who are struggling to find their own way in the world. Although Hattrup’s work captures the uncertainty of youth through the eyes of a cautious girl, Tru’s character offers a perfect juxtaposition to Frannie, as he refuses to plan any part of his life and completely skirts the rules. The volatile friendship between Frannie and Tru is the best part of the novel, as each conversation they have is dripping with intelligent sarcasm, which is both funny and interesting. Any teenager struggling to understand who they are or who they strive to be would enjoy this novel, as well as adults who want to remember their time as adolescents.

Reviewed by Janine C., Teen Board Member on May 23, 2016

Frannie and Tru
by Karen Hattrup