Frankly in Love by David Yoon

The bookshop I work in was sent this early uncorrected proof copy of Frankly in Love by David Yoon. I opted to read it, and I’m very pleased with my choice.

Frank Li is a Korean-American high-school student who wants to date his white classmate Brit Means. His parents have strict views that their children should only date other Koreans, resulting in his sister being ostracised from the family. Frank isn’t alone in his predicament. Other Korean-American kids, known as The Limbos, (not feeling like they fully fit in with either culture), face similar problems. Frank and fellow Limbo, Joy, make a pact to fake-date each other as a cover to see their real love-interests.

If you’ve read or watched Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, you’ll know where this is heading… except it gets there with a third of the book still remaining. And that’s what I really liked about this story – it doesn’t neatly end with a happy ever after. Instead, it throws in a new curveball, which I won’t spoil for you.

What is most commendable about Frankly in Love is the exploration of racism across all the cultures represented in the narrative. Not only is the book a deep-dive into Korean culture and traditions, it also throws up everyday white privileges, and the idea of being unrepresentative of your tribe. Q’s family are judged to be ‘less black’ by their relatives, while Frank is judged for not being able to speak Korean. On top of this, is the delicate examination of racism across generations. Frank’s parents make openly racist remarks about other ethnicities, impenetrable to reason or argument from their liberal children.

I liked this book a lot. The characters are smart, funny and philosophical, and the multi-purpose narrative delivers a really intelligent read. Frankly in Love is available from 12 September 2019.