I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Frankly in Love by David Yoon. This story about Frank Li and his senior year experiences completely pulled me in from the very first page. The detailed, descriptive, and often colorful writing style held my attention and the wonderfully developed characters in this story totally captivated me. Quite “Frankly” I fell in love with Frank, his friends and surprisingly even his parents. This is a beautifully written story of self discovery, young romance, friendship, and family. This coming of age story is thoroughly entertaining and I highly recommend it! It is definitely an outstanding story that I believe will be enjoyed by readers of all ages!
Frankly in Love is David Yoon’s first novel. It is a stand-alone Contemporary YA book that is written from a first person point of view and is divided into three sections. It explores subjects such as cultural differences, racism, violence, illness, death and grief. I also feel it gives a very realistic view of a high school teenager’s life, in particular their expectations, stresses, and experiences throughout their senior year. Finally, it depicts the challenging transition from high school senior to college freshman. This story follows the main character Frank Li through his senior year of high school as he struggles to rise above the cultural conflict of being a first generation Korean American teenager and deals with his heartfelt frustration of wanting to love freely. ~ “We all just want to love who we want to love.”~
Frank Li is beginning his senior year of high school. In many ways he is a typical high school “nerd”. He’s taking multiple AP classes, preparing for the SAT’s and applying to colleges. He loves hanging out with his best friend “Q” and enjoys socializing with his friends from his AP classes known as the “Apeys”. However, Frank is very different from most of his friends because he is also a Korean American. His parents, who immigrated to America, firmly hold onto their Korean customs and beliefs. Although Frank was born and raised in Southern California and can barely speak Korean, his parents expect him to follow many of their Korean traditions. Most importantly, they expect him to marry a nice Korean girl.
Frank Li lives between two worlds- his Korean life at home and the very diverse American world he experiences outside of his home. When going to school and hanging out with his friends he is a typical American teenager but at home his life is very restricted by his parents' culture and racist views. These racist views affect his friendship with his best friend Q who is black and have even banished his older sister for marrying someone “not Korean”. Once a month Frank is expected to attend the Gathering where five Korean families come together for dinner. These five couples, including Frank’s parents, met in Seoul, became friends, all moved to Southern California to begin their new lives in America and have continued to get together for dinner each month for decades. Their children are all born in America and are all around the same age. Despite knowing each other since birth and being in the same year in school they never hangout with each other outside of the Gatherings. Frank refers to them as Limbos because inside the Gathering time freezes for a few hours while they “wait out time in between worlds”.
Brit Mean is one of Frank’s Apey friends. Frank considers her intense, funny and a nerd just like him. She is the girl of his dreams but she’s not Korean. When Brit suggests they be partners on a calculus assignment everything changes. Frank and Brit become close and decide to date but this presents a huge problem for Frank. How will he date Brit and keep it a secret from his very intrusive parents? How can he possibly tell Brit his parents are racists and will never approve of her? When he finds out that Joy Song, one of the Limbos, is in a similar circumstance they come up with a plan. The plan is “to pretend date each other” to keep their parents off their backs. Frank and Joy have known each other forever, sharing a friendship that was always just part of the Gathering. This plan sounds like the perfect solution! It makes their parents happy and also allows them the freedom they seek to date others. As Frank and Joy are thrown together by the circumstances of their plan, they become very close and are surprised by how much they enjoy each other’s company. Soon Frank begins to question the wisdom of their plan. Will Brit understand if she ever learns the truth about his plan with Joy? Will he be able to keep this a secret from Brit? Would it be easier to date someone his parents approve of like Joy? Does he even understand what love is? As the plan begins to unravel, will Frank follow his heart at all costs?
When Frank is unexpectedly confronted by violence he begins to appreciate the sacrifices his parents have willingly made for him and tries desperately to connect with his father. Through this experience, Frank comes to a new realization about acceptance, understanding and loyalty to friends and family. He begins to understand himself, and suddenly realizes how important his relationships are. He sees his friendship with Q, the Apey’s and the Limbos as precious and he’s grateful to know them. His relationship with his parents and his sister strengthens and despite tragedy he begins his new journey as a college freshman as someone no longer divided but as someone who wants to be whole. “Life is but a dream. My dream? So beautiful dream I’m having whole life, God giving me…Beautiful son,” Definitely a lot of crying for me!
I thoroughly enjoyed this amazingly descriptive, incredibly witty, and often hilarious story! I immediately connected with Frank and I could easily relate to his feelings of being stuck in the middle of two very different cultures. His struggles of trying to keep his parents happy while also trying to grow beyond the prejudices of his parents' culture are all too real. I was drawn to Frank's easy going personality and especially appreciated the respectful way he dealt with his parents despite his frustration with their antiquated and often racist views. I loved the authors detailed and often colorful descriptions of things like the “Lake Girlfriend”, the stores worn counter and the Korean Gatherings. I absolutely loved Frank and Q’s unique friendship and the secret that Q was holding onto was definitely a very emotional discovery! (More crying!) The author's sense of humor was evident with the description of typical AP nerds, fart phones, and the awkward high five/fist bump of male nerds. I truly enjoyed the authors engaging writing style and I frequently found myself laughing at his descriptions and metaphors which often created a nice balance between humor and real life anxieties.
Considering Frankly in Love is David Yoon’s first novel, he definitely wrote a very impressive inspirational story that showcases his amazing writing talent. Although this book is written as a Contemporary YA book, I believe there is something for everyone in this story. I absolutely loved this exceptional story and look forward to reading future books by David Yoon. This is one of those outstanding stories that just stays with you for a long time after finishing the book! I highly recommend that you pick up a copy and experience this incredible story for yourself!
I would like to thank G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers and Penguin Teen publishers for the privilege of receiving an Advanced Readers Copy of this book through BOOKishFIRST in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. I truly appreciate the wonderful opportunity of receiving a copy of this amazing book!