Frank Li has two names. There’s Frank Li, his American name. Then there’s Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California.
Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl–which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit . . . who is white.
As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he’s forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don’t leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he’s found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he’s left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all.
In this moving debut novel—featuring striking blue stained edges and beautiful original endpaper art by the author—David Yoon takes on the question of who am I? with a result that is humorous, heartfelt, and ultimately unforgettable.
*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Penguin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 10, 2019.*
I would argue that Frankly in Love by David Yoon is the most highly anticipated YA release of this fall. Besides the fact that Yoon is married to NYT bestselling author Nicola Yoon, the book has been everywhere. And did you see the book trailer? If not, do yourself a favor and watch it here!
My point is, the hype for this book is off the charts and ultimately well deserved.
The premise of the book is one of my favorite tropes in the history of tropes. Frank Li is falling for a white girl, Brit Means, but his Korean parents only want him to date another Korean American person. Thankfully, Frank’s friend Joy Song fits the bill perfectly. Thus, they hatch a plan to pretend to date each other so that Frank can date Brit and Joy can continue to date her Chinese American boyfriend. Of course, nothing could possibly go wrong in this scenario.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, I totally know how this will end, this is so predictable, blah blah blah. Except, you’d be wrong. Because while Frankly in Love is being sold as a rom com, I hate to be the one to inform you that it goes way deeper than that. I’m talking almost-made-me-cry-on-the-train deeper than that. Yoon uses Frank’s love life as an entry point to discuss the nuances and difficulties that come with being the child of immigrants and he does so brilliantly.
Frank has to reconcile with the fact that his parents are racist, but also that they come from a completely different life than the one he lives. Frank struggles with being the kind of son his parents want him to be while also trying to figure out what being Korean American means to him. It’s a constant culture clash for Frank and while he disagrees with his parents on many things, he’s also can’t deny how much they’ve sacrificed for him and his older sister to have the lives they do.
With all that said, I urge you not to go into Frankly in Love expecting a romance novel. That’s not what this is. Yes there is a romance, and it is really great, don’t get me wrong. But this book also deals with heavy topics and it will certainly surprise you, but for me, those surprises worked in the best way. I truly could not put this book down and I loved it from beginning to end. That is why I highly recommend picking up Frankly in Love when it goes on sale.
Highlight this space (parental death, cancer) for trigger warnings!
Borrow or Buy: Buy it, duh!