Frankly in Love

Putnam. Sept. 2019. 432p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781984812209.
Gr 9 Up–Identity, family, secrets, sacrifice, first love, and transitions all come together in Yoon’s sparkling debut. Frank Li is one of the “Limbos,” a group of second-generation Korean-American children who are forced to hang out once a month when their parents organize dinners that are part support group, part competition. The Limbos are caught between two worlds, a sense Frank keenly feels as he begins dating his first girlfriend, who is white. After his sister is disowned for marrying a Black man, Frank decides to enter a fake relationship with Joy, another Limbo, so that they can both date the people they want without parental involvement. Frank’s romantic relationships change along with his relationship with his family, as he grapples with hard family news. This is an outstanding novel where the emotions are deeply felt but honestly earned. The characters are complex and nuanced, and all are on their own authentic journeys. The highlight of the book is Frank’s voice—he is a sharp observer who is funny, insecure, and deeply conflicted. Yoon’s writing is filled with highly specific descriptions that make Frank’s world feel fully realized, from the fruit-named phone chargers sold at his parents’ store, to his group of unique and nerdy friends, dubbed the “Apeys” for their Advanced Placement course load. This will be a hit with teens who like introspective realistic fiction, romance, and humor.
VERDICT Full of keen observations about love, family, and race with a winning narrator, this is a must-purchase (multiple copies!) for any teen-serving library

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