Frankly in Love – David Yoon – G.P. Putnam’s Sons – Published 10 September 2019
High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.
Dramatic writing and a strong and humorous narrator drive this coming-of-age story about acceptance and belonging, falling in love and growing up.
Frank has two names. His American name and his Korean name. He has two sides – perpetually separated. When his parents strongly encourage a relationship with a fellow Korean-American family friend, Joy, and Frank finds himself falling in love with a definitely-not-parental-approved White girl, he and Joy concoct a plan to secretly date to give each other the freedom to be who (and date whomever) they want to be.
From the summary and a cursory glance at the events of this story, you could be forgiven for assuming Frankly In Love is all about young love. And yes, there is certainly lots of falling in and falling out of love, dates, break ups, kissing and more in Frankly In Love. But ultimately, it is a story about growing up, of discovering who you are or maybe who you will become. It’s about family and acceptance and belonging. It is about racism and prejudice, even in the most unexpected of places and in the places it is hardest to confront. It is a sad and heartwarming story. Equally laugh-out-loud worthy as it is likely to make you tear up just a little. It will delight the nerds in us all, especially those who want to just embrace their passion-crazy, role-play playing, dragon-fighting person.
There is so much happening in this story. While the thread of the plot follows a laughably crazy storyline (seriously, I think this book must be based in real life because only in real life are families this crazy), the themes of confronting racism, living with the fallouts of prejudice, the structure of families, and even grief are strong and forthright. This is also a story about growing up. As Frank faces the last few weeks of his high schooling, he must also confront the stress of tests, college applications, changing relationships, the end of friendships and the beginnings of new relationships.
Frankly In Love is a book teens will easily relate to. From the hijinks of his parents to the struggle he has trying to juggle two leading ladies, this humorous take on a coming of age story is sure to amuse and reassure many young readers.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Diversity, prejudice, racism, family, relationships, dating, friendship, high school, coming of age, romance.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Frequent crude references and innuendo. Frequent sexual references, implied sex scene and references to mas*******. Coarse language, f*** (97), sh** (99), bit** (7), as***** (7), pi** (3), di** (13).
Published: 10 September 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 432 pages.