Frankly in Love


A must read.

You might start out reading this book for the romantic comedy that it promises but you will quickly find yourself walking in the shoes of Frank Li as he searches for his niche; his place to feel he is "one of them," and his chance to just be himself and be accepted as a human being.

This is a story about figuring out what really connects us to each other and seeing what keeps us apart.  This is Frank Li's exploration of skin deep, geography, languages and all the things that define us for ourselves and define us for others.  What lens do you look through?  How far are you willing to "get to know" somebody who doesn't look like your family not to mention opening up the mighty factors called trust and respect to include someone you have always considered to be "other."

Once upon a time, five couples met at a university in Seoul, became friends and made a plan.  Together they moved to Southern California to start new lives and give their children the priceless opportunity of going to college at a prestigious American university.  What they didn't consider when they made their move was how their children would be able to integrate the culture beyond the walls of their homes and the homes of the friends of their parents.

Frank Li's parents are one of the couples who made that journey and took that huge risk.  For most of his life, Frank's parents have run their business, The Store, as a team.  They work there seven days a week, morning, noon and evening, "weekends, holidays and New Year's Day."  It's located in a "poor, sun-crumbled part of Southern California, largely populated by Mexican- and African Americans" and an hour from the house and the neighborhood where Frank lives with his parents.   Frank's  parents have dedicated their lives to giving him the time, the space, the resources to get a top score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT, doorway to his future.  It's on his shoulders now.

Welcome to the senior year of a Korean American teen.  Frank Li and his best friend since forever, Q, African American teen, are a team navigating the world of girls, SATs, video games and getting in to college.  The two spend many a Saturday night down at Lake Girlfriend, a fountain at the high-end Westchester Mall, where the two boys sit and contemplate their ideal woman.  Neither has a girlfriend.  Both are waiting for love to strike.

As they list the criteria for the perfect woman, Frank holds back one crucial factor.  His woman had better be Korean American because in Frank's world his parents are blatant racists.  They want him to date Korean, not Chinese, or White or African American.  The only good girl is the Korean American girl.

So, when Frank finds himself kissing Brit Means, a white girl in his calculus class, he has a big problem.  He is going to have to hide his relationship from the K-'rents.

Where do these kids belong?  How can they live up to the expectations of their parents?  Do their parents even see them?  Does anyone see them as just teens who are all different with dreams and desires of their own?

This is a powerful look at the inside of the life of an Asian American teenage boy.  It invites you to spend some time in his skin, in his world, with the pressures he faces.  It's a call to everyone to remember that each of us is an individual... no two alike... and everyone carrying his/her/their own set of pressures, pain and potential.

A poignant, humorous, authentic voice story that captures your heart at the same time it waylays your own ideas about acceptance and what it's like to stand in someone else's shoes and fight this seemingly never-ending war comprised of battles that never end well.

An interesting suggestion for you... read this book concurrently with ON THE COME UP by Angie Thomas and BARELY MISSING EVERYTHING by Matt Mendez. The viewpoints of teens in the three cultures are so powerful and thought provoking.

432 pages                 978-1984812209                   Ages 14 and up     (Language; no explicit sex)

Recommended by: Barb Langridge,


This smart, romantic, and totally original coming-of-age YA contemporary debut about a Korean-American teen falling in (and out) of love is perfect for fans of The Sun is Also a Star, Eleanor & Park, and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

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.--from the publisher

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