A huge thank you to PenguinTeen for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review! I received this book as part of a promotion.
Y’all, how little did I know what I was getting myself into when I read this book. I knew it was going to be good, and I expected a cute, fluffy romance but it was so much more than that. In the best way possible.
All quotes are taken from the ARC and may change in the finished copy.
Content warning: death of a loved one, racism
Title: Frankly in Love
Author: David Yoon
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Expected release date: September 10, 2019
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, romance
Length: 432 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “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.”
“We all want to love who we want to love.”
As I said before, when I started this book, i didn’t know how much I would like it. The plot is deep and intricate as the main character, Frank, struggles with his feelings for a white girl and knowing his parents only want him to date Korean. I think this book does a job balancing light humor and dark emotions well, and the writing is truly spot on, really pulling you into Frank’s world and how he feels as a Korean-American. I admit, though, I wasn’t quite sure I would find myself in this book, despite the circumstances, but I did and it’s a wonderful feeling. I’m biracial, and a lot of what Frank goes through, his thoughts, too, really felt familiar to me. I loved coming across parts that were familiar bits from my childhood or even now.
I’m glad the story doesn’t just end when Frank gets together with Brit. We see both him and Joy struggle with dating non-Koreans. Then we see the story envelope not only these teenagers but also their parents and, even though they’re Korean, face struggles of their own that have nothing to do with race but class. It’s also painful, too, to read how Frank’s speak about those who aren’t Korean–they stereotype people, and in turn, we see how these particular stereotypes affect Frank’s relationship with his friends and his family. I thought it was interesting that this book brought up the question on whether we ought to love our parents because we have to, not because we want to. Trying to find the right words to express my emotions about this book is difficult. I keenly felt the identity crisis, and loved following Frank’s painful journey.
“…[L]ove is more terrifying anything. Love is a mighty blue hand coming straight for you out of the sky. All you can do is surrender yourself and pray you don’t fall to your death.”
I have to be honest, there isn’t a character (outside of the parents, lol) that didn’t like. Each had their own struggles, and we see some of it reflected through Frank’s eyes. Despite what happened with Brit, I liked her and her family, too. Frank’s group of friends are the kind you wouldn’t mind having as your own. They created a bubble for themselves to live in, to live outside their parents’ expectations for them, and it was…nice, despite the fact that it’s just that–a bubble, fragile and easily popped. Yoon has a way of writing that makes you feel, but in a casual way, like you didn’t know you cared for Frank and his friends until suddenly… you do! (I’m not sure if that even makes sense, but there you go.) Also, the ending with Q and Frank really gutted me (in the best way).
This could probably go up there with characters. It was easy to fall into this world, Frank’s world of his racist parents, his school and the senior year, trying to get into a good college, while everything else around Frank seems to be going super well one minute and then turned completely upside down the next. You go into this, not knowing what to expect, and then finding so much more, discovering parts of yourself (and your family) you weren’t sure about. All a wonderful yet scary experience.
There were a few scenes I thought was done purposefully, and most of them were to help the reader understand, in a sense, what Frank goes through. For the most part, Frank knows a bit of Korean, so what he knows is mostly written in Konglish (Korean words written in English). Yet there were larger scenes written completely in Korean, and because Frank doesn’t speak or understand a lot of Korean, I loved how the author chose to write the story like this. So much so that I called my own mom to translate the scene for me. She’s not a perfect interpreter by any means, but I was able to get a general understanding. I think it’s at this point where Frank finally begins to understand his parents despite everything. Overall, I really loved how it was done.
Check out these other reviews:
- Sue at Beauty Book Corner also gave this book 5 stars.
- Simone and Her Books also rated this book highly!
- Farhina from shelovestoread discusses the problems she had with the book and why she disliked it.
- Rachael from rqdreads is also a biracial Korean-American and shared how she felt seen in the book.
You can purchase this book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble (exclusive edition), Book Depository (U.K. edition), or find it at your local indie with IndieBound. The first printing of this book will have blue-sprayed edges. Also, there’s still time to submit your pre-order receipt to receive an awesome enamel pin and a chance to win a tote bag!
Now, watch the book trailer!