Sunday, June 23, 2019

Book review: Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Book Summary
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.

Flo's Review
This book was a little hard to get into right at the beginning because of David Yoon's writing style -- it's distinctive and unique, and you have to acclimate to it. But once you do, you get to the point where you're so swept up in that story that you don't even recognize it. Probably because it just becomes part of the story, and it's just so obviously the way Frank thinks that it doesn't seem different any more.

The cover of the book, besides being beautiful, is 100% accurate. Because you think this story is about one thing, but it goes so, so much deeper than that. Yes, the pact is a part of the plot, but it's far from being the whole story. It's one facet of the story, and definitely a big one. It's the instigator, the impetus for a lot of questioning, growth, and subsequent actions on Frank's part. I think I read that this might be getting adapted for TV or movie, and if that's the case then I feel like the story in that medium will focus on the fake dating pact, which is fine. That in and of itself makes for a fun story.

But it's really the WHY behind the pact where Frank's story of senior year lives. I loved reading about the Apeys, because they were the smarty pants and they completely owned it. They had each other and it was just a great group. In the author's thank you at the end, David Yoon mentions his real-life Apeys, so I'm really glad he had this group of friends in school.

Then the Gatherings. My family 100% has those on major holidays. It was fun to read about what happened at the Gatherings and about the Limbos, because 100% accurate. I had my own group of Limbos, and we even had a nickname for ourselves. So I completely related to that.

I loved reading about Frank's experience as a Limbo. I enjoyed learning more about Korean culture and Korean-American culture. And speaking of accurate -- David Yoon did such a good job encapsulating the experience of senior year. On one hand, you spend so much time and effort working toward what's next, planning for what's next, looking forward to what's next. But on the other hand, high school can house some good memories and comfort. It's emotional to move away from that. In that aspect of his life, Frank is also in limbo. (Sorry. This book is full of puns, so of course at least one had to make it into my review.)

Speaking of the puns, I just adored Frank's relationships. His conversations with Q. His conversations with Joy. So great. I can't say too much about the ending without being spoilery, but it was so real, so raw, so fitting, so true. It hit me in all the feels.

Frankly in Love comes out September 10th from Penguin Teen, and frankly, I think you're going to love it.

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