Frankly in Love by David Yoon
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.
Senior is begun.
I thought that Frankly in Love was going to be a cute YA romance but it turned out to be so much more. I love that I read this for a buddy read because it lead to a lot of interesting conversations.
Reading this book made me realize that I have not read a lot of books from the perspective of a teenage boy. It took me a little while to get used to his voice. Most people in the buddy read felt the same way, but once you start to feel connected to him the book becomes difficult to put down.
In my opinion, the romance is such a small part of this story that it is almost not relevant. What stood out most for me was Frank and his navigating the expectations of his family with his own wants and needs. It felt so deeply personal and like the author was speaking from his own experience. Those in the buddy who have had similar experiences within their own families were impressed with the representation.
Another highlight for me was Frank’s friendship with Q. I loved their dynamic and inside jokes. They were so supportive of one another and it actually made me emotional. There are rumors that there may be a sequel to Frankly in Love and part of me hopes that it follows Q.
I think that the marketing for this book has done it a bit of a disservice. I have seen some mixed reviews and I think that it because a reader goes in expecting to read a fake dating story and that ended up being such a small part of the story that it almost wasn’t relevant. I very much enjoyed this book, but I was a little thrown off by that at first. I was thrilled with the direction that the book ended up taking!
I would recommend Frankly in Love for anyone who enjoys YA contemporary. I truly do not think you have to be a fan of romance to appreciate this story. Highly recommend it for a buddy read or a book club.