Frankly In Love by David Yoon
Overview: You might think Frankly in Love is a fake dating story. It is not. Yes, there is some fake dating, but it's not the point. Frankly in Love is a family story. It's about cultures and cultures clashing. It's about generational gaps and language barriers. It's about customs and expectations and figuring out which ones are really important. Frank is trying to figure out what it means to be Korean-American. He's trying to figure out what it means that his parents barely say, "I love you." He's trying to figure out how his sister was cut out of the family for marrying a black man. He's working out what it means to face losing someone you love. Overall: 4
Characters: 4 I liked all of the characters. There's time taken to flesh all of them out. From Q who is black and lives in a super accepting family to Frank's parents who are racist towards everyone who's not Korean to Brit and her white family who try their best to say and do the right thing but miss the mark sometimes. A lot of the book revolves around the issue of race and thinking about how different races interact with one another and what that means. Most of the characters are first defined by their background and skin color and how they relate that to the world before anything else which is an interesting approach given the focus of the story. Lots of the side characters are used as learning moments, which, again, in context, isn't entirely a bad thing.
Frank also deals with what it means to be Korean-American when the only part of him that feels Korean is his connection to his parents. He deals with the unique struggle of not only having to jump generational hurtles with his parents but also things like language barriers. Frank, his family, and Joy Song, the appropriate Korean girl he starts fake dating, get the most attention and development.
Plot: 4 The plot definitely has its ups and downs on the interest factor. I love the family story and I love the idea of having more books that talk about families and how they connect with each other. I find it a shame that the fake dating plot tried so hard for most of the book and just let the family stuff simmer in the background till the last quarter.
Honestly, my problem here and my problem with fake dating on the whole is that the person they're faking it with is always the person that has better chemistry so it's hard to care about most of that love triangle. I thought this book might take it in an interesting, new direction, but it really didn't. It sort of just existed to emphasize just how closed and not accepting of anyone Frank's parents were at the start. The way it dives so deep into a love triangle that feels pointless made the book really lag for me.
If you came for a lighthearted story about fake dating like all the promo emphasized, you'll realize you've been set up with a totally different book. While I don't think what you get is a bad book at all, I think people should at least be aware that they're getting into a much heavier book.
Writing: 4 The writing is both my favorite thing and biggest problem with this book. His styles is so unique. If you've read his wife, Nicola Yoon's, other books you'll notice a very similar style in the sense that they'll pick a minute detail and dig into the multitude of worlds behind it. While I love those moments, I feel like there's a point you have to contain it or it loses its luster.
Simply put, this book is way too long. There's a lot of fat that could have been cut, and, while it does add some interesting moments, it makes the reader wonder "What was the point of this scene?" So many of these moments could have been mentioned in passing or recapped. It would have definitely improved the pacing because I felt like I was slogging through a lot of unnecessary stuff to get to the really cool, really thoughtful core of the story.
So I really don't know what to say about this book. I enjoyed some parts to give it five stars. It goes into areas that haven't ever really been explored in this way in YA in a really special way. But there's also a lot of the story that didn't add to the narrative. Yes, they were things that happened in Frank's life, but not every day needs to be accounted for in detail to make the story feel full.
I guess I would say that Frankly in Love is a book that I would read while I also read other things. I think my biggest obstacle was that I got so hung up on only reading the one book.
Links of Interest:
Into YA with Carrie Allen: Here
Michigan vs the Boys: Review Here
Into YA with Candace Granger: Here
Six Goodbyes We Never Said: Review Here