FRANKLY IN LOVE by DAVID YOON
A REVIEW BY ALEXA DUNCAN
Hello, readers! After a long period of nothing from me, I’m finally back and ready to start reviewing books again!
This week’s book is Frankly In Love by David Yoon, husband of acclaimed YA author, Nicola Yoon (of The Sun is Also a Star fame). Frankly in Love is David Yoon’s first novel, and for the most part, he pulls it off. For the most part.
Readers, I must say that reading this book caused me to come down with a serious case of whiplash. But before I get into it, let me tell you what this book is about: Frankly in Love follows eighteen-year-old Frank Li (seriously) during his last year of high school. The synopsis promises a romance with a classmate, a fake-dating trope, and plenty of teenage angst. All of these things are technically true, but the synopsis is deeply misleading.
The first half of Frankly in Love is your standard YA contemporary romance. Frank falls in love with white girl Brit Means. Frank is not allowed to fall in love with Brit Means because Frank is Korean-American and Brit is white and Frank’s parents definitely would not approve. Which is where Joy Song comes in. Joy is another Korean-American kid from Frank’s parents’ friend-group. Frank and Joy start fake-dating so that Frank can date Brit in secret. It’s cute, in a classic kind of way.
But then the second half coms along and you feel like you’re reading an entirely different book.
Without spoiling too much, the second half of Frankly in Love is downright grim. Parental death, infighting, breakups, and more happen in the second fast and it got so dark that I could barely see the light at the end of the tunnel. I especially took issue with how the book ended, but I guess that’s what second books are for.
This is a book, however, that forced me to take my Adult Glasses off and read it for the YA novel it is. I love YA. I read YA. I write about YA. I spend a lot of my time thinking about YA. That said, it’s not often that I have to take my Adult Glasses off. With Frank Li and his friends, I did. The fact is that Frank makes some very stupid choices throughout the novel and says a lot of stupid things I didn’t understand. Then I realized I was being an Adult about the book when I didn’t need to be. Frank is stupid at times because he’s eighteen.
There are some things about Frankly in Love that I liked, such as the discussions around race and racism. Frank’s parents are pretty vehemently anti-Anyone Who Isn’t Korean.Frank calls them out on their racism plenty of times and the characters all have discussions about race on the page, which I appreciated. Frank’s voice isn’t bad either, aside from a few hokey lines meant to make him sound more like a teenager.
Overall, I didn’t hate Frankly in Love. I’ll probably read the sequel because I want to know how the story progresses, but I won’t be as excited for it as I was the first one.
Your mileage may vary, so make sure you check out our copy of Frankly in Love at the Oreana library today!