Title // Frankly In Love
Author // David Yoon
Publisher // G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date // September 10th 2019
Synopsis // 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
My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Minor spoilers ahead but let’s be real if you read the synopsis describing fake dating you and I both have a pretty good guess at what’s going to happen.
I WANTED TO LOVE this so much!! There was so much hype around it when it came out last year, and I was legit so excited and I got all my hopes up and I heard such good things about it and I thought I would love it??
And then… it turns out I hated it. wHOOPS.
Frankly… Frank Li is a horrible person. Reading this entire book from his perspective was rather mind grating because I wanted to just yell at him. First of all, his voice was irritating, and this fell into the John Green-esque style of teens talking in weird and somewhat pretentious ways in an attempt to make them *quirky* or whatever, but honestly it just came off as super cringy. I found some of the ways he talked about girls and sex to be annoying and sexist too.
But what made me really hate Frank was the horrible way he treated his girlfriend. The whole fake dating trope… listen, I normally love it. I loved it in To All The Boys! It’s cheesy and cute! But the way it was executed in this book… was not cute. First of all, it was only even relevant for a few chapters, but the whole time it happened, Frank had a girlfriend… a girlfriend he treated horribly. In order to pull off this fake dating scheme, he lies to her, both by not telling her some things, and straight up lying to her face, then he gets into some grey territory that feels like emotional cheating, and then finally physical cheating.
And it’s literally not addressed after the fact! Frank cheats, he barely not really feels bad for like two paragraphs, and then that’s that and we can literally forget about the first girlfriend she just disappears off the page and Frank waltzes around happyland with his new love… since he apparently has no morals I’m taking bets for how long until he cheats again.
I hate cheating in books (and in general) on principle. I’m super angry on behalf of the girl who was cheated on because Frank sucks… but not because I cared about her because she has no personality. Frank has two love interests in this book and neither of them have a personality. It’s just they’re like hi and he’s like hi and then two pages later Frank is like I’m in love!!! 100% instalove. I couldn’t tell you why he liked either of them. They’re… nice, and pretty, and I think Frank thinks they’re funny though I never laughed at anything they said? None of his friends really have a personality either.
As annoying as Frank is, I think my main problem with this book was that it tried to do too much, convey too many messages, talk about too many themes, but ended up accomplishing none of them.
One of the biggest things addressed in this book was the racism that Frank’s parents have, wanting him to only date a Korean girl. He struggles with this for a large part of the book, ending up having to lie to his girlfriend and create this ridiculous fake dating scheme to date a white girl, and even dealing with the fact that his sister, due to marrying a black man, was basically disowned. He spends a lot of time worrying about this, his girlfriend chastises her parents for being borderline racist towards Frank, and his friend encourages him to tell his girlfriend about his parents racism. But in the end? Frank just ends up falling in love with a Korean girl and that’s that. The problem is never resolved, it just gets removed, and the kids who have to worry about their racist parents just stop worrying about it and continue to enable their racism.
I’m just… I am literally the product of a white person and an Asian person dating and I was really annoyed by how the book was literally like oh whatever the parents are racist just date the Korean girl and move on don’t bother trying to go against that.
There was also this really weird discussion on how Asians are Asian-American, and Black people are African-American, but white people can just be white, so instead they should say European-American. I didn’t really get the point of this, but I didn’t really like it as it seemed like it was categorizing everyone into a box… what, am I supposed to be Asian-European-American??
There was also this random plot twist in the very end of the book where someone’s sexuality was used as a shocker grand reveal and… I was not here for it. And the response to this plot twist is basically like just pat pat ok buddy you’ll made some boy very happy in the future thanks for being the token lgbtq+ rep take your lollipop and go along.
This book also tries to address a lot of other issues including shooting that comes out of nowhere and is never really explained, cancer that shows up out of nowhere and the emotional implications of it are never discussed, classism the causes an issue that gets resolved in just a few pages.
TL;DR: this book tried to be too much and it failed at everything
Have you read Frankly in Love? Did you enjoy it? Do you like pretentious John Green-esque talking teenagers like Frank? I’d love to chat in the comments below ❤