Frankly in Love by David Yoon (432 pages)
“Frankly In Love”, A Complicated Teenage Romance
What’s more complicated than teenage romance? Fake teenage romance. In Frankly in Love, Frank Li, the son of Korean immigrants, is trying to navigate his high school years within the bounds of his parents’ expectations. Frank often feels that he doesn’t quite fit into his parents’ culture or the culture of his high school. When Frank falls for a girl named Brit, who happens to be white, he knows that his parents would be outraged. The solution? Pretend to date Joy, a fellow second-generation Korean teenager.
On paper, this plan looks promising. Frank and Joy will schedule their fake dates to coincide with their secret dates; Frank will spend time with Brit while Joy spends time with her boyfriend Q, a black classmate, who her parents would also disapprove of. Frank and Joy set up a calendar to keep their plans straight. What could possibly go wrong?
Yoon’s debut novel is overwhelmingly entertaining. This friend group feels authentic with all its inside jokes and eccentricities. Yoon also tackles the discomfort Frank feels caught between his parents and his Southern Californian friends. Frank wants to connect with his parents but feels that their expectations are stifling. As Frank’s love life gets more complicated, his relationship with his parents becomes more complex.
The Bottom Line: 4/5 Brookie Stars
This is a wildly entertaining and also heartwarming story. Though I cannot personally connect with Frank’s situation, his feelings regarding his culture seem authentic to me. The relationships among Frank and his friends also feel real. David Yoon has clearly picked up some tricks from his wife, Nicola, author of The Sun is Also a Star and Everything, Everything.
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Rachel Gomes is a 30-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their son. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and has her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s happiest listening to podcasts and talking to friends about the latest news in nerd culture.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table