Frankly In Love is frankly amazing. David Yoon has gone above and beyond to bring us an endearing teen romance with a new refreshing cultural point of view. Seeing love through the eyes of a Korean-American born teenager is an unexpected gem of a treat and it’s a book that makes you laugh, cry both happy and sad tears, makes your heart clench, and gives a more realistically down to earth version of love in this day and age.
Frank Li never really considered love to be a possibility with his strict parents expectations to marry within ‘the tribe’—a group of families that left Korea together to move to America and have stayed together throughout the years. When he gets closer to his classmate, Brit, everything changes, the sun seems to shine brighter and love feels closer than ever. The perfect student, great sense of humour, bubbly, and an all-round good person, Brit is the best girlfriend any parent could ask for their child. Well, except for Franks parents as she does not fill the most important requirement: Korean.
Enter Joy, who is part of the exclusively tight knitted Korean tribe and struggles to keep her relationship with her Chinese boyfriend from her own strict parents. That’s when the brilliant arrangement comes along. If they could pretend to date each other and keep their Korean parents happy, they can live out the love life they want to finally take charge of. If only it were that easy.
Family and racial identity are at very heart of this book. It explores family dynamic with the parents and child being raised in different continents, as well as showing a struggle of language barrier between the different generations. Frank is unsure of his identity as he could never be counted as ‘the majority’ because the colour of his skin even though he has grown up in America his entire life. He struggles to see the significance of only keeping within the Korean community when he knows there is so much out in the world. Ethnicity is a key part of what separates him from everyone else and he never quite fits in on either side of the Korean American spectrum as although he may look Korean, he can barely speak it. Throughout the book, you can see him questioning if embracing his heritage would prove to his benefit just so he can live up to everyone’s expectations
“They cherry-picked what they wanted from American culture, but for the most part, they built this little Korean bubble to live in. They watch nothing but Korean shows, do business with nothing but Korean people, hang out with nothing but Korean friends,”
Love is something that is so perfectly executed in Frankly In Love. It has every stage of your first time falling love to the love that is shared within a family. It was refreshing to read a story where the character is aware of his feelings and actually learning from them as not all teenagers are within mindless love bubbles and just want to make out in the back of the cinemas. With the way his parents talk about anyone that isn’t Korean, Frank knows there is no way that they will accept Brit. However, as he keeps the truth from both his parents and Brit, he starts to realise the importance of honesty to others as well as yourself.
“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 humans beings that say all things mere words cannot.”
Frankly In Love is a coming-of-age story that shows how family traditions and first loves can mould a person. For David Yoon’s first book, this is exceptional. He will definitely be an author to watch in the future and with this new voice, Frankly in Love is not to be missed. Seriously, just go buy it now. It will blow your mind how good YA romance can actually be!
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Synopsis | Goodreads
Frank Li is a high school senior living in Southern California. Frank’s parents emigrated from Korea, and have pretty much one big rule for Frank – he must only date Korean girls.
But he’s got strong feelings for a girl in his class, Brit – and she’s not Korean. His friend Joy Song is in the same boat and knows her parents will never accept her Chinese American boyfriend, so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom.
Frank thinks fake-dating is the perfect plan, but it leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love – or himself – at all.