December 2019, Fiction

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Frankly in Love by David Yoon. September 10, 2019. GP Putnam’s Sons, 406 p. ISBN: 9781984812209.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Two friends. One fake dating scheme. What could possibly go wrong?

Frank Li has two names. There’s Frank Li, his American name. Then there’s Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California.

Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl–which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit . . . who is white.

As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he’s forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don’t leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he’s found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he’s left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all.

In this moving debut novel—featuring striking blue stained edges and beautiful original endpaper art by the author—David Yoon takes on the question of who am I? with a result that is humorous, heartfelt, and ultimately unforgettable.

Part of series: Frankly in Love (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism, Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Underage drinking, Underage smoking, Racist slurs

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 21))
Grades 9-12. Frank Li has always known his parents expected him to date a fellow Korean American. It was an unspoken rule he tried not to think about until he finds himself kissing, texting, and overall obsessing over Brit—who’s white. To save himself from his parent’s disappointment (or outright condemnation) Frank hatches a plan to create a faux relationship with longtime family friend Joy, who has also fallen for a non-Korean. It seems like the perfect plan, at least, for a little while. With Frankly in Love, Yoon has created a story within the well-trod rom-com trope of fake relationships becoming more than a facade that is completely fresh. Frank is a wonderfully self-aware protagonist with a compelling voice that sometimes seems much older than 18 but never in a way that rings false. To say this debut novel is more than a romance would be to malign the genre it is a credit to, but even readers who aren’t fans of romance will be drawn into this beautifully written exploration of family, identity, and self-discovery.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2019)
A senior contends with first love and heartache in this spectacular debut. Sensitive, smart Frank Li is under a lot of pressure. His Korean immigrant parents have toiled ceaselessly, running a convenience store in a mostly black and Latinx Southern California neighborhood, for their children’s futures. Frank’s older sister fulfilled their parents’ dreams—making it to Harvard—but when she married a black man, she was disowned. So when Frank falls in love with a white classmate, he concocts a scheme with Joy, the daughter of Korean American family friends, who is secretly seeing a Chinese American boy: Frank and Joy pretend to fall for each other while secretly sneaking around with their real dates. Through rich and complex characterization that rings completely true, the story highlights divisions within the Korean immigrant community and between communities of color in the U.S., cultural rifts separating immigrant parents and American-born teens, and the impact on high school peers of society’s entrenched biases. Yoon’s light hand with dialogue and deft use of illustrative anecdotes produce a story that illuminates weighty issues by putting a compassionate human face on struggles both universal and particular to certain identities. Frank’s best friend is black and his white girlfriend’s parents are vocal liberals; Yoon’s unpacking of the complexity of the racial dynamics at play is impressive—and notably, the novel succeeds equally well as pure romance. A deeply moving account of love in its many forms. (Fiction. 14-adult)

About the Author

David Yoon grew up in Orange County, California, and now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, novelist Nicola Yoon, and their daughter. He drew the illustrations for Nicola’s #1 New York Times bestseller Everything, EverythingFrankly in Love is his first novel.

His website is davidyoon.com

Teacher Resources

Frankly in Love on Common Sense Media

Around the Web

Frankly in Love on Amazon

Frankly in Love on Barnes and Noble

Frankly in Love on Goodreads

Frankly in Love on LibraryThing

Frankly in Love Publisher Page

Fiction, November 2019

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

Permanent Record by Mary H.K,. Choi. September 3, 2019. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 432 p. ISBN: 9781534445970.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Marijuana, Strong language, Strong sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. Pablo has dropped out of college, is massively in debt, and feels aimless. One night when he is working the overnight shift at the 24-hour health food bodega, he meets Lee, who breaks him out of his rut. They have witty banter and great chemistry, but at the end of their encounter he figures out that she is Leanna Smart—the pop mega-star whose image is plastered everywhere and whose songs are inescapable on the radio. Navigating these barriers while falling in love pushes them into uncharted territory, and while it’s swoony and dramatic, it’s also messy and fraught. Choi (Emergency Contact) has penned a smart and funny read that is as much about finding your path as it is about falling in love. Pablo is a winning narrator with a natural voice, and readers will root for him in his romance with Lee, as well as on his rocky journey to self-actualization. Choi’s specificity, realistic dialogue, and humor ensure that the personal and romantic journeys feel warm and rewarding but never saccharine. Pablo’s friends and family, a diverse cast with rich inner lives of their own, are loving but firm with him, and readers will relate to the ultimate message of the book, delivered by his father: “Doing nothing is the only stupid.”

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2019)
A chance encounter between a college dropout and a pop star in a New York City deli leads to unexpected romance—and expected complications. Korean Pakistani American Pablo Rind, a former NYU student struggling to figure out what he wants to do with his life, is weighed down by a mountain of student loans and credit card debt. Feeling paralyzed by his Korean anesthesiologist mother’s high expectations, he works the graveyard shift at a deli. Into his monotonous existence comes Carolina Suarez, aka mega-star Leanna Smart, who enters the store early one morning on a snack run. Mutual attraction (and a shared love of snacks) leads to a whirlwind, jet-setting romance, but when the disparity between their worlds puts pressure on their relationship, Pablo is given the opportunity to come to some hard realizations about himself and the responsibilities he’s been avoiding for too long. That, along with some prodding from friends and family compels him to finally face what he needs to do in order to change his life, stop taking his loved ones for granted, and pursue his dreams. While the language has a contemporary feel and the range of diverse, appealing characters accurately reflects modern-day New York, the plot frequently drags, and character development is weak. Hip characters and jargon adorn a predictable storyline and unconvincing romance. (Fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Mary H.K. Choi is a Korean-American author, editor, television and print journalist. She is the author of young adult novel Emergency Contact (2018). She is the culture correspondent on Vice News Tonight on HBO and was previously a columnist at Wired and Allure magazines as well as a freelance writer. She attended a large public high school in a suburb of San Antonio, then college at the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in Textile and Apparel.

Her website is www.choitotheworld.com.

Around the Web

Permanent Record on Amazon

Permanent Record on Barnes and Noble

Permanent Record on Goodreads

Permanent Record on LibraryThing

Permanent Record Publisher Page