Ever since I saw the most adorable book trailer on the internet, I’ve been looking forward to reading Frankly in Love. I avoided reviews for it like the plague, mainly because the review titles were a tad bit disconcerting. Things like “Not really a fake dating book” and “not really about romance” titles. Made me kind of nervous. (Did my review title make you nervous, too? Opps)
Anyway, I have a ton of mixed feelings about this book! Overall, i enjoyed it but some of the storytelling aspects puzzled me quite a bit. Which means I get to write a complicated review, yay!
The characters were so strong! Joy! Q! Britt! Frank! His parents!
Honestly, every single character in this story had a super engaging personality. And I loved that! For a debut novel, it was incredible how strong the characters were written. Normally, a few days after I read a book, I can’t remember most of the characters names. Yes, that’s a shame. But with Frankly in Love, i can’t forget any of the character’s names. Britt Means. Joy. Q. they all stand out.
All the Korean American Culture and Discussion on Privilege
David Yoon very excellently interweaves Frank Li’s Korean culture into his story. I would say the majority of this story’s development centers around Frank coming to terms with his own identity as a Korean American.
And alongside this great highlight of Korean American culture, Frankly in Love shines a spotlight on privilege and casual racism. The discussions among the characters, calling out racist expectations and privilege, they were incredibly worded well. And these discussions weren’t just inserted into the story, but an essential aspect of the plot.
And speaking of the plot, this is where things get murky, because I have mixed feelings about the plot. Overall, I really wanted to enjoy the plot. And I did, for about half of the book. 🙁 So, do i talk about the plot in the part of the review where I chat about what I liked. Or in the disappointing part? Because I have such mixed feelings.
And here’s why I have mixed feelings. While I enjoyed the first half of the book and it’s pacing and character development, things got super messy in the second half. As in, I was super confused and disappointed all at once.
I should clarify, that the first half of the book was all about a fake dating scheme. And fake dating is normally kind of fun, but in Frankly in Love, it left me with very mixed feelings. Because the fake dating felt like cheating and that was just messy and wrong. Now, I don’t think any of the main characters, aka Frank, wanted to cheat or intentionally cheated so it didn’t become a cheating story, thankfully.
Now for the MOST disappointing aspect of this ENTIRE book, Sidelining Female Characters. Both Britt and Joy were well rounded characters and breathed life into the story. I loved each of them! So you can imagine my extreme frustration when these female characters were side lined because the main male character was kind of done with them.
Just because a guy falls out of love with a girl doesn’t mean the girl’s story is done. Look at other stories with great female characters! Éowyn – Aragorn definitely does not fall in love with her but her story isn’t wrapped up just in an unrequited crush. She goes on to be an incredible character all on her own – without Aragorn’s unrequited feelings. But in Frankly In Love, the female characters are just, ignored. I felt like Britt and Joy were written off, and their part in the story never really felt wrapped up.
And finally, the final pebble in my pile of annoyances. The “Someone’s Gay! A Weakly Used Plot Surprise” trope. So, yes, a character comes out in the very last 10% of the story. and it’s used as some sort of weird surprise? I was left more confused than anything.
As you can see, I had lots of mixed feelings about Frankly in Love. It wasn’t exactly the cute rom-com the book trailer promised, it covered a lot of good topics, but rushed the second half, and treated relationships weirdly.
Now, if you want to see me reading Frankly in Love, I did put together a whole 24 hour reading vlog. It was lots of fun to film and edit together. 😊
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.
Have you read Frankly in Love? if so, what did you think? What are some small things in books that you really like? Or little things that annoy you?