Frankly in Love will take you by storm. It is one of those books where you finish and immediately want to read it again. Not only does this book tackle issues of going to college, complicated families, and romance, but it also looks at racism, expectations, and identity.
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.
I received this ARC from Emma at MissPrint as part of the Arc Adoption Program!
Frankly in Love is a story about identity, family and love. There’s no shortage of things to love about Frankly in Love and Frank Li. Whether it’s his racist parents, the pressures they put on him to find a Korean American girl, his relationship to his disowned sister, his quest for a love, and his own relationship to his Korean American identity. But even everything I’ve mentioned before is even more complicated than it appears. And that’s the immense joy of Frankly in Love – that Yoon tackles these difficult topics with breadth, curiosity, empathy, and nuance.
Expectations and Identity
What starts out as a story about Frank’s plan to pursue the girl he loves without disappointing his parents and free to spend as much time with them as he wants, turns into a story that talks about sacrifice, expectations, and questions of identity. It’s about the sacrifices his parents have made – and the challenges they face. The expectations his parents have for him, and also the ones he has in response. And how he feels about his identity as a Korean American when immersed with other (Korean) (Americans).
While Frankly in Love is firmly set in Frank’s Korean American identity, I found myself drawn to how frank Frank is about how he doesn’t know who he is. How there are so many question marks, ways he doesn’t feel like he fits in, and how much that resonated with me. Not only how it feels when we feel like we don’t quite fit in anywhere, but how it also feels when we can connect with someone over these complicated feelings.
Frankly in Love takes place at a moment of transition. When we feel like we’re constantly in transition, never knowing where our feet will land. But also before the decision of college – a time of endings and beginnings. It asks us how much we know our parents, but with more depth and complexity. Where does our identity begin and end? If we are all defined by these little nuances, where can we stick our flag in the sand? It’s a book about examining privilege, the family we are stuck with and the ones we choose, and the pieces of ourselves we glue together for our identity.