Review: David Yoon – Frankly in Love

Frankly in Love
David Yoon

Frank Li needs to get date a nice Korean girl, bond with his father and get into The Harvard. What he doesn’t foresee is falling for a white girl and missing out on his father’s life. When Frank and Joy cook up the plan to fake date one another to be with the people they love, will more get broken than their hearts?

What I really liked about this novel was that it didn’t end at the predictable point of boy-loves-girl-loves-boy. The plot keeps going, and Frank finds himself still continuing on and considering issues he hadn’t thought about. To me it felt like quite a long novel, although I didn’t have a chance to sit down and read it in a single sitting.

Did the romance feel real to me? Sort of I suppose. I didn’t really get a proper picture of Brit and Joy, besides that Frank liked them. I liked how it wasn’t really insta-love as they had at least noticed one another before. I would have liked to see a little more characterisation of people other than Frank – but what can you do when it’s a first person narrative? Well, you can employ funny jokes and casual swearing in a way that makes you feel like you’re inside a teenage boy’s mind.

Apparently fake dating is a common trope? I’ve not seen it in my recent reading, so I can’t comment on it. For me, I found it very believable that Frank and Joy would set things up like this! Yes, I suppose the next step was inevitable but really? Couldn’t there be any other option? I’m also not sure I liked the ending with Q. I don’t think it was necessary, and it didn’t really make sense with the rest of the novel.

I can’t really say much about whether this is a typical depiction of American-Korean life and expectations. At my high school, everyone was European-Australian, and at university the number of people of Asian decent outnumbered ‘Australians’. Some reviewers have complained that this novel shows old-fashioned views of immigrants that speak poor English, but have high hopes for their children. However the people I personally know from similar backgrounds actually have similar expectations placed on them.

David Yoon is the husband of Nicola Yoon – Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star. If you like fiction that has racial impact I’d recommend this novel, or the others. Just remember that it is written to a very American (USA) point of view. 4 stars from me.

Penguin Random House | 12th September 2019 | AU$12.99 | paperback

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