Frankly Smart: A review of Frankly in Love

Cover Image Frankly in LOve

Frankly in Love
David Yoon
Putnam, September 2019
Grades 9-12

Frank Li is in love (see what they did there?)… with Brit, then with Joy. But it’s complicated by Wu (Joy’s ex), Q (his BFF), his immigrant parents, the Apeys (A.P./smart friends), and the Limbos (Korean friends)—the list is long. Love triangle or love nonagon? Frank would know, he’s studying for the SAT. Everything else is complicated by life as a teenager and his angst over who he is as a Korean, Korean-American, or just American; because people are complex and labels are limiting.

Under the thin veneer of a love story (do teenagers even fall in and out of love that fast?), David Yoon explores the much deeper and more interesting themes of racism, code-switching, and community. Frank is thoughtful, introspective, and nerdy-in-a-good-way, while still authentically awkward and impulsive. His well-rounded character is a much-needed counterpoint to the common teen stereotypes in YA lit. His internal monologue is both funny and perceptive and keeps the book from veering too far light or dark. With the exception of a slightly rushed resolution, the 400+ pages are an easy read that “manages to be a love story, treatise on racism, and welcome to Korean-American culture all at once.” And, yes, that is a quote from the author endorsement on the ARC cover, but Jodi Picoult has it right.