Title: Frankly in Love
Author: David Yoon
Category: Young Adult
Series info: Standalone
This book has been on my radar since it released, and I was gifted a paperback copy of it from my secret Santa last year. I was super excited to finally read it because it’s been widely praised.
The book follows Frank Lee as he navigates his high school senior year. It documents all the parts of an Asian-American teenager’s life such as parental expectations, the problem of not completely belonging anywhere, teenage love, and goals for life.
At the center of all this is the story line where Frank falls in love with a girl named Brit. But her parents won’t approve of her since she’s American. They want him to only be with a Korean-American like himself. He concocts a plan to fake-date Joy Song, a fellow Korean-American, to appease his parents while actually hanging out with Brit.
We all just want to love who we want to love.
But life is much more than what he thinks it is.
> This book was a journey.
I didn’t like the book much in the beginning because the writing style was a little different. The vibe and emotion in the writing was not what I’m used to reading.
But once I got used to that, I got immersed in the book and Frank’s story.
> Frank is Korean-American.
His parents came to America with not much money so that he and his sister can have a good life. He is expected to study well, get high scores on the SAT, get into an Ivy League university, get a good job, and settle down with a girl from their tribe.
> We follow his story where he struggles with wanting to make his parents proud as well as live his own life.
One of the most profound discussions in this book is about identity. Frank struggles with identity along with other Korean-Americans of his age. He’s in the middle, stretched between the two ends, trying to fit in one place where he’s not completely accepted.
He likes American food, but he also feels at home with traditional Korean food. He’s not an expert in Korean traditions, language, or food but he will always feel at home among them because of his parents. Yet, he’s an American teenager through-and-through.
White people can describe themselves with just American. Only when pressed do they go into their ethnic heritage. Doesn’t seem fair that I have to forever explain my origin story with that silent hyphen, whereas white people don’t.
> The book also shows the divide in linguism.
Frank’s parents did not teach him Korean. They want him to succeed in America and hence encouraged him to only learn English. That’s entirely because of their dreams for him, but it affects his life in different ways as well. It’s difficult for him to communicate with his grandparents or family who speak in Korean.
Try as he might, he can’t fit in with the Korean crowd because of the language barriers.
There were two pages in the book where the conversation takes place in Korean. Frank’s dad and Joy’s dad speak in Korean and hence it is printed in Korean* as well.
This conversation is later referred to and told in gist to Frank by his parents, but we never find out exactly what was said. That’s because Frank himself never learns of the conversation entirely and since we read from his perspective, we don’t as well. We’re not even given a translation at the back in a note, leaving us clueless like Frank. That was an interesting way of getting us to experience the divide due to language.
*I found someone online to translate the two pages for me line-by-line so I can find out lol.
> Frank’s relationship with his parents.
Multiple times, Frank wonders about his parents’ work ethic. Rain or shine, holiday or sick, they always go to work in their store. They never take a day off. And Frank, grown up American and looking at American parents, regards his parents as an anomaly.
This, of course, leads to Frank not really knowing his parents. His parents speak broken English and throughout the book we see Frank struggling with his bond with his dad. The divide between immigrated parents and first-generation American kids is shown really well.
Dad settled into his role as breadwinner, expected me to settle into my role as disciplined academic, and we both put our noses to the grindstone and never looked back up.
Frank’s parents are also really racist. They regard Koreans as the best, Americans as ones who have succeeded, and look at everyone else under their noses. This makes Frank’s relationship with them very complicated, especially when he likes a White girl.
> This also means that while Frank loves them, he constantly struggles with correcting them and hates their policies.
I was pleasantly surprised to see this addressed because usually racism is kept only to White people. But Asians can also be racist. It’s true.
> Frank learning about the complications of love and what a relationship is was nice to see.
At the heart of this story is Frank navigating high school relationships and his feelings. I really like how it was connected back to who he is as a person and his upbringing.
> The friendship in this book TORE me.
Y’all. Forget the love. The friendship between Frank and his best friend Q is the BEST. THING. EVER. It’s too pure. I could cry.
> Character growth.
When I said that this book is a journey, I really meant it. The book takes us through Frank’s thoughts and realizations through the book. We see how he learns and grows.
I really liked Frank as a person and his growth in this book.
> Reading this book was like peeling the layers of an onion.
The book adds on more details and uncovers facets to life as the book goes on. We start with Frank liking a girl, but end with so much. From life as a Koran-American, to social-standing and comparative preferences, to what a family means.
The book really delivered on plot, information, characters, and emotion. I am not ashamed to say that I cried towards the end. I cared too much about these characters.
Frankly in Love‘s premise is simple. A Korean-American boy starts fake-dating a Korean-American girl so that he can really date an American girl and not disappoint his parents.
But that barely covers what the book is really about. It is so much more than just another teenage romance with the fake-dating trope.
I HIGHLY recommend it. Everyone should read it.
I rate this book..
Have you read Frankly in Love? Have you read any book that delivered more than what it promised?