Backlist Book Review: Frankly in Love
It's been a hot minute since I've updated this blog, friends. But that doesn't mean I haven't been reading! So far, I've read 91 books this year, way past my original goal of 55. I'm on a roll.
One of my recent reads was Frankly in Love by David Yoon, which I won in a giveaway on Instagram. It. Was. Incredible.
Synopsis from the publisher
Two friends. One fake dating scheme. What could possibly go wrong?
Frank Li has two names. There’s Frank Li, his American name. Then there’s Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California.
Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl–which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit . . . who is white.
As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he’s forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don’t leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he’s found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he’s left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all.
From the synopsis, I expected a sweet YA romcom about dating two different girls. Oh, the hijinks that would ensue! But Frankly in Love was SO much more than that. Frank's struggle to find his space between Korean culture and American culture went way beyond dating. It permeated his friendships, his family, his education, everything. The story is super relatable for Asian-Americans, but anyone who has felt like they have to be a different person in different settings can relate, I think.
The only thing that bothered me in the beginning was how perfectly witty Frank and other teens were--come on, you're allowed to be awkward at that age!-- but I soon got past that. There is so much great stuff going on here: Frank's relationship with his (black) best friend, Q; his relationship with his estranged older sister, Hanna; how he acts and speaks differently with family and family friends and best friends and parents (called "code-switching"); how awkward he felt being around Brit and her (white) parents, and much more.
Rating: 5/5 stars
You may like this book if you enjoyed Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell or Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi. If you're looking for your next YA read, make it Frankly in Love.