Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Publication Date: September 10th, 2019
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’d like to thank Libro.Fm for providing me with the audiobook through the Audiobook Listening Copy (ALC) Program! Their service is honestly so great and the app is super easy to use! Using their service also helps to support local bookstores! Be sure to check them out HERE !
I’ve been waiting for this book since maybe early March this year and I WAS SO EXCITED. I mean… fake dating?! Featuring a Korean boy and his immigrant parents? I’m not Korean but I AM a daughter of immigrant parents and I’m also a firm believer that literally every culture is similar with family relationships except for white people (I said what I said). So anyway, I knew from the beginning this would be relatable AF… but really didn’t expect it to hit as hard as it did!
So, yes. This is about a boy named Frank Li who has racist parents who won’t let him date outside of the Korean bubble. And yes, Frank decides to fake date someone so he can be with a white girl. BUT, this was not a typical rom-com. Actually, for me the romance wasn’t even what made this the 5 STAR book that it is! What made this a 5 was the family dynamics and the struggle of trying to fit into this definition of “Korean-American” that people have created.
Let’s talk about the audiobook first: Because I listened to the audiobook, I had such a fun experience hearing the narration by Raymond J. Lee! He voiced every character perfectly and since it was unabridged, it made the whole experience even BETTER. I highly recommend listening to the audiobook because it really was so fun! I couldn’t stop listening!
NOW! LET’S GET DOWN TO THE FUN STUFF!
Frank Li was such a relatable and beautiful character. He was absolutely hilarious and all of his commentary never felt like it slowed down the plot or anything. His interjections in the middle of the story made it even more immersive and I was laughing out loud A LOT. His relationship with his parents made me feel like my own story was being told. There was one part where he talked about how he felt obligated to love his parents and I don’t know why, but that hit me hard! Everything he talked about with his struggle to be understood by his parents was all too relatable!
On top of that, his relationship with Q was so refreshing. It was just so great to see two really close friends know each other so well and not be afraid to show emotions. I loved seeing their relationship grow and change throughout the story (and I especially loved their fake accent banter!).
I really didn’t care for Brit Means (which I suppose is kind of the point of the book anyway), but Joy Song was a great character and I loved their growing relationship throughout the book. I absolutely LOVED the way that the fake dating trope was used in this and it was truly fun to see how everything went down (I literally don’t want to say anything more about it because I don’t want to ruin the experience or spoil it).
When I say FALSE ADVERTISING I definitely mean it. What started out as a fun, cute rom-com quickly became something so much more. I fell in love with this book not because of the cute rom-com stuff, but for the complex issues of identity and racism and trying to fit into this world that keeps trying to put a label on you. I loved that Frank was so… frank about his struggles and noting everyone’s different privileges (even his own). All the deeper relationships meant a whole lot more than the romance. Everything that happened with Frank and his family relationship was so much more powerful and meaningful than the romance. I felt like that was more of the primary focus of the book than the fake-dating trope that was advertised and I WAS TOTALLY THERE FOR IT.
Without ruining the story, let me just say that everything that happened had me laughing and crying and gasping. I went through a life-changing experience while listening to this book and I think everyone should read this because it was just so relatable and beautifully done!
I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read something fun and refreshing. I would also recommend that fans of Kim’s Convenience and Fresh off the Boat read this because the family dynamics and humor were very similar in my opinion!
If you like fake-dating tropes, complicated family dynamics, having to admit that your parents are racists and they don’t really care to realize it, dungeons and dragons campaigns, creating music through experiences, the struggle of taking SATs and needing to live up to your parents’ unnecessarily high expectations, falling in love for the first time, loving your parents despite not liking them all the time, amazing friendships, and trying to figure out your identity THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.
If you like audiobooks and want to sign up for the ALC program as well, you can check out Libro.fm HERE