Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love, #1)by Published 10 Sep 2019
|Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love, #1).pdf|
|Publisher||G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers|
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.
Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love, #1) Reviews
I received an ARC of this book for free from the publisher. Since I received an ARC, my quotes from the book are tentative.
I give this book 4.5 stars which rounds up to 5.
This book was so good! It’s a romance but it goes so much deeper than just that. At the core, it’s a story about first love, racism, identity, and family.
I absolutely loved that this book did not shy away from talking about racism, especially the racism of Koreans towards African Americans and other Asian communities. I haven’t really seen that in a book before.
I liked that this book explored the struggles of being Korean-American and having immigrant parents. Frank is often conflicted over his identity. At one point he states, “I call myself Korean-American, always leading first with Korean or Asian, then the silent hyphen, then ending with American. Never just American” (pg. 133).
I also loved the end of the book. It was a bit sad but still realistic.
My one critique is that the romances seemed a bit instalove-y, especially Frank’s romance with Brit. Frank fell in love with Brit so fast. It kind of came out of nowhere.
Lastly, as a Filipino American I’m always looking for representation and this book has a tiny bit of Filipino rep. One of Frank’s friends, Paul, is Filipino. His character doesn’t do much, but the book does incorporate Isang Bagsak. Isang Bagsak is a Filipino unity clap, whcich I never even heard of prior to reading this book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this #OwnVoices exploration of love and identity.
Penguin is promoting Frankly in Love very heavily. It appears they are banking on David Yoon becoming the next John Green. Maybe he will, we'll see. If you are a big John Green fan, and like his nerdy humor, precocious pretentiousness, fascination with girls as otherworldly creatures, you should give this book a go. A cute romance Frankly in Love is definitely not. Frank's love life is the weakest part of this novel, IMO. But more on that later.
Frankly in Love is more of a coming-of-age story, of a teen boy growing up and coming to terms with his family and his own identity. David Yoon adds his Korean-American experience to this pretty typical scenario. He writes about Frank's challenges with not being able to identify fully with either Korean or American culture.
If you've read some think pieces about the newest Netflix romcom Always Be My Maybe, you probably know that that film is lauded for its breaking of Asian American stereotypes. Frankly in Love doesn’t take that route. Yoon's story shows Asian community with overbearing, demanding, hard-working parents who speak broken English and only want to circulate in their own Korean diaspora, with all their kids high-achieving and set for Ivy League futures. These kids are also obedient, well at least in front of their parents. Which brings me to the romance.
David Yoon wanted to address the racism in Korean community. And not just racism that Korean Americans experienced themselves, but racism they inflict on people of other ethnicities and backgrounds. This is clearly a very important and painful topic that Yoon wanted to get on pages of his debut. The romance story centers on Frank's parents' disapproval of his kids' dating anyone but Koreans. Frank's older sister is disowned for dating a black man. When Frank falls for a white girl, he is so scared to bring it up with his parents, that he hatches a plan with one of his Korean girl friends (who is also dating a non-Korean boy), to pretend to date her in front of their parents while seeing his white real girlfriend in secret. None of it is cute, to be honest. First of all, to me, after reading books by Maurene Goo or Helen Hoang, this seems like a problem of the past, and this need to hide dating someone of a different ethnicity, entirely overwrought for our time. (I was apparently wrong about that and corrected in the comments). Secondly, David Yoon doesn't do either of the girls in Frank’s life any justice. There are cute dates, but there is no real knowing of the girls he falls for. Signature John Green there, if you ask me. Frank’s relationships with Brit and Joy are sudden and lacking convincing backstories, making him seem like the kind of guy who will fall for anyone if only opportunity arises. The fake-dating trope is an unnecessary distraction in this novel.
I liked the exploration of the Korean community much more, especially when Frank talks about his family and friends with no unjust judgment. His journey to accept the duality of his identity and his parents’ flaws is compelling. Although I found the major conflicts resolved very quickly and easily.
Read this novel to learn about Korean American experience in John Green-like coming of age package. Lovers of romcom might find the advertised fake-dating scenario underwhelming.
Morris commitee will probably like it, as well as actual real teens. Maybe.
hands down one of my favourite books of the year.
YOU GUYS THIS BOOK!!
It's my life (except the fake-dating)!
I mean, every ethnic house-hold can relate to the whole dating within your race nonsense and juggling your culture alongside the society you actually grew up in.
Our parents, man.
adding books with the fake-dating trope to your TBR: free