September 10th 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Original Title: Frankly in Love
ISBN: 1984812203 (ISBN13: 9781984812209)
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.
Thank you to Penguin Random House International for providing a review copy and letting me join this International Blog Tour. Huge thanks to Librofm as well for giving me an access to early audio book of this book that made my reading more fun! This does not affect my opinion nor my reviews about the book.
Frankly In Love by David Yoon is one of those YA Contemporary books that I appreciate dearly. Knowing that this book is going to be out there? Simply, marvelous. This book holds some of the aspects of being an Asian kid. Well, I’m not technically a kid anymore but being in an Asian household — the stereotypes and mindset of “mostly” Asian parents are naturally depicted in this book and I could relate so much in a certain degree.
This book starts with Frank questioning his parents’ choices for him when it comes to relationship. It feels like if he is Korean, he should find a Korean. His parents’ reasoning? To avoid confusion for the kid. Personally? I don’t mind having a diverse culture and origins. I don’t mind having someone as a partner coming from a different culture and ethnicity.
I was talking from my friend last time when I brought up Frankly In Love’s depiction of Korean parents being racist and discriminatory towards different races. But you know what she said? My friend believed that we are all racist and discriminatory at some point, it just turns out, that at this point we are more accepting and more open about the possibilities that people love whom they can love. And it is just that those parents who are against the idea of loving or marrying someone from different culture, they are just ignorant of the things and the people and what the world can offer.
One of the things that I liked in this book is that aside from the fact that this book is in perspective of a male protagonist (yeaaaaah, I sometimes longed for male perspective in YA Contemporaries), Frank Li is not ashamed to admit that he loves Romantic Comedy films! And yes, those films? They are like life’s greatest guilty pleasures. Which is actually a big deal when it comes to an Asian setting.
Also, Frank Li emphasizes here that he is struggling with his Korean representation. He doesn’t know how to speak Korean much less to communicate with its language. What I am trying to say here is that it doesn’t matter whether you are fluent with your cultural background nor you are committed to your origins. It doesn’t make you less of YOU if you don’t know your background.
But do you know what I could relate the most in this book? Frank’s awkward interaction with his father. I would like to believe that at some point, sons have their awkward phases with their fathers — especially in Asian households. Some topics are off-limits to talk about. There are life lessons that you would only able to figure out by yourself. And the thing is, this book just displays how true life is. Sometimes annoying and sometimes embarrassing but most of the time, you would end up grateful because these characteristics of Asian parents makes the child more independent by themselves.
Frankly In Love by David Yoon is a beautiful novel that demonstrates the struggle of being in between two worlds, the struggle of a teenager in love, the difficulty of being in a relationship when you are coming from an Asian (Korean, in this book) household, and finding your identity between the line. This book is more than I could hope for — something that will touch my heart and appreciate my family — despite the shortcomings. It taught me that sometimes, as a son and daughter, we don’t know the sacrifices and the things that our parents are making for us. We may not understand behind their decision but sometimes, we don’t see the things that they have to give up for us to have a wonderful future.
This book will make you mad at Frank Li but this book will also make you realize that those choices have been made because those things happened as a failure to be better in the future. And as a young adult, who doesn’t make mistakes?
MY RATINGS: 4.5 STARS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Yoon is a writer and designer who created the illustrations for the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Everything, Everything. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, novelist Nicola Yoon, and their energetic daughter. Frankly in Love is his first novel.