Book Review: Frankly in Love by David Yoon

TW: Racism, violence, illness I was maybe a little biased when I picked up Frankly in Love  by David Yoon. See, I really enjoye...

TW: Racism, violence, illness

I was maybe a little biased when I picked up Frankly in Love by David Yoon. See, I really enjoyed Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, she married David - so he must be cool by association, right? (I'm also looking forward to reading The Sun is Also a Star soon. It just arrived in the mail yesterday!) Frankly in Love has was also optioned as a film before the book was even released, so I knew I was in for something good. I just didn't realize how good it was going to be.

Frank Li is first-generation Korean-American. His parents, alongside many of their friends, immigrated to the States from Korea before Frank was even born. They built their American lives from the ground-up. But Frank's kind of stuck in this weird limbo between his Korean heritage and his American upbringing. But here's the thing - his girlfriend in not Korean, and his sister was basically disowned for dating outside of her ethnic group. So Frank has to come up with a way to keep his love life hidden from his parents, but it's proving much harder than he expected.

I was highly impressed with this book. It really hit the ground running, I was immediately connected to Frank and really invested in how he would either succumb to or combat his own parents' racist tendencies. Racial identity and pressures are something I think about literally daily. I think it's so important to understand your race and the race of others ("color blindness" is microagressive, folks), and how those things impact the world around us. As someone who is married to someone of a different race, this book really hit home in a lot of ways, though Frank's experience was much different than my own.

I enjoyed learning about Korean-American culture through Frank's eyes and getting a better understanding of expectations within those communities. I am not incredibly well-versed in terms of any Asian/Asian-American cultures, so this was a nice change of pace. I also really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes of the Apeys. I myself, was an AP students, but was very underprepared because of the school I went to. I was always an overachiever and "smart kid," and I work with high achieving students, so it was nice for the story to be told from that perspective.

Frank is nerdy and super corny, which is my favorite kind of humor. So I really appreciated the goofy jokes throughout the books. They were bad, which made them oh, so good. 

I will say that while there were definitely some twisty plot points throughout the story that I wasn't expecting, the main plotline was highly predictable and I saw it coming from a mile away. It honestly didn't take away from the story, though. Don't we all love a fun fake-dating trope? I still really enjoyed the entire book and was always rushing to find time to read it. According to Goodreads, it's "Frankly in Love #1," meaning there will be at least one follow-up, and for that I cannot wait. I would highly enjoy getting to know more of Frank's story.

For the negatives, I loved Q's character so much. He is a sweet, kind, and thoughtful kid who is Frank's best friend. He's Black and I loved all interactions with him and his family. The problem? #1. In the only way I can say this without spoiling a "twist" in the book - Q's character is completely underserved within the story. There's so much more I wanted for his character and so much more I wanted to know. His "secret" backstory is treated in a way that seemed unintentionally negative, and there's definitely some work to be done in future stories from Yoon. #2. His sister, Evon, is described as being hot every. single. time she is mentioned. I get it - Frank's a horny teenage boy. But this horniness doesn't play through in really any other pieces of the book (seriously, not even the sweet little PG sex scene), thus promoting Black woman as sexual objects, which is totally screwed up.

I'll also say that while this book is fairly diverse and I appreciated that the majority of the characters were Asian, it is a YA book and I expected more diversity in terms of gender and sexuality. There's virtually no queer characters, which felt very lacking.

"If you are so unfortunate as to have no one in your life who can make you laugh, drop everything and find someone. Cross the desert if you must. Because laughter isn't just about the funny. Laughter is the music of the deep cosmos connecting all human beings that says all the things mere words cannot." - Frankly in Love, David Yoon

Overall, I really loved this book. I thought the story was so precious and things were mostly well-written, I had concerns with the lack a queer characters and felt the Black characters were unintentionally portrayed in a harmful way. I will continue reading Frank Li's story. Yoon's writing is fresh, funny, and flows really well. I appreciated the exploration of racial identity and family dynamics. This book made me quite literally laugh and cry, which is always a good sign in terms of YA - I like to feel all the feelings, and Frankly in Love made me feel.

Goodreads rating: ★★★★☆

You Might Also Like