frankly in loveFrankly In Love – David Yoon
Genre: YA Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of age
Pages: 406
Release Date: September 2019
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

This young adult novel follows 17 year old Korean-American Frank Li as he navigates his way through his senior year of high school, trying to find the balance between living his own life and following his Korean parents expectations and rules, the main one being that he must only date “nice Korean girls”. Although he views them as racist, Frank still tries to follow his parents rule of only dating Korean girls, but problems arise for Frank when he catches feelings for a white girl in his class, Brit. Luckily for him, his friend Joy Song is in the same situation as she knows her parents would never accept her dating a Chinese-American boy. So they make a pact. They decide to fake-date each other in order to keep their parents satisfied while being able to date their partners freely.

I was looking forward to reading this the moment I heard about its release, mainly because David Yoon is the husband of Nicola Yoon (the author that wrote my all time favourite book ‘The Sun Is Also A Star’) and I was interested to see which direction this book would go and if it could be compared to TSIAAS, seeing as they have similar attributes.

I definitely did enjoy some parts of this book. I liked all of the characters, aside from one, and I found the concept of fake dating quite fun to read about. There were many funny moments and cute moments within the book that I won’t discredit. However, I did have a few issues with it.

While I did find the characters enjoyable and the story was quick to read, there were a few parts that left me feeling quite underwhelmed. One of the most talked about topics within this book is race. The story is told from Frank’s perspective and we hear him talk a lot about how his parents are racist and there is a lot of emphasis on how racist his parents are (e.g. they basically disowned Franks older sister for dating/marrying a black man), yet there is no resolution to that issue within this story, Frank doesn’t even try and talk to his parents about it. His parents never find out about his relationship with Brit, he hardly says anything when his parents make racist comments towards black and Hispanic people, even though his closest friend is black, and he ends up doing what his parents always wanted in the first place, to date a Korean girl. I just don’t quite understand what the point was of making his parents come across as so racist, if nothing was going to be done about it. There was no conflict, no resolution. Frank dated a white girl in secret, then broke up with her and started dating a Korean girl and his parents were none the wiser. To me, that story line seemed to be tied together too neatly. In my head prior to reading this book, I anticipated some sort of conflict between Frank and his parents in regards to him dating, and even while I was reading I thought that the emphasis on how racist they were was some sort of build up for a big conflict or plot twist involving his parents and Brit. I thought they were going to find out about the whole fake dating situation or something other than what actually happened.

I also didn’t find Frank and Brits relationship to be very convincing; to me it seemed so rushed. They were partners on a school project and now they’re in a relationship loool that didn’t make much sense to me. I also found Brit very annoying and there was a comment she made to Frank that I didn’t like, about how she would find it interesting to be the odd person out at a family event Frank had to go to.

‘I wish I could go to this fancy party with you’ says Brit
‘Eh, too much ethnic homogeneity’ I [as in Frank] say
‘It could be interesting, Being the odd one out for once’ she says (pg.221)

Being a black woman, what she said didn’t sit well with me because it seemed to me that she was making a joke about wanting to be the odd person out. Being the odd person out, the person that can never seem to blend in, is a lot of peoples reality, particularly people of colour as we are seen as the minority. So I didn’t like that she was making a joke about wanting to be the odd one out, like it would be fun, like it’s something that everyone can just switch on and off on a whim. I also didn’t like that Frank didn’t say anything to her about it, even though he was clearly uncomfortable with the comment.

Another aspect that bothered me was the way the author used one characters sexuality as a plot twist. It didn’t make sense because it happened towards the end of the book and that person decided to come out and then that was it. It wasn’t explored or mentioned in the book any further, so what was the point?

Overall, I was a little bit let down by this book. I had completely different ideas about which direction this book was going to go and it ended up not really being my type of book. The fake dating trope, which was the aspect I liked the most, didn’t carry on throughout the entire book so after everything was out in the open, the story line started to change and I began losing interest. I did enjoy some parts of it and there were a few funny moments, but I just felt like there were topics written in this book that weren’t explored in enough depth and were only talked about on a surface level.

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