Emily Hall, co-owner, manager, and events coordinator of Main Street Books in St. Charles, Mo., recommends Frankly in Love, a diverse YA rom-com by debut author David Yoon.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a YA fantasy buff. It is 110% my jam. I adore stories of magic and intrigue in distant lands, with high stakes and epic romances. It’s very rare for me to pick up a contemporary YA novel, even when the fancy ARC mailing does have my name on it (good job, by the way, PYR). This is how David Yoon’s Frankly in Love arrived on my desk at Main Street Books: in a bubble mailer with an identifying sticker, and the words “FRANKLY IN LOVE WITH EMILY HALL” emblazoned across the cover. The enclosed letter was dated February 6, 2019—my 30th birthday.
What else could it be but fate?
Frankly in Love introduces us to Frank Li, a first-generation Korean-American high school student whose parents immigrated from Seoul to southern California before he was born. Frank’s “Mom-n-Dad” have one rule when it comes to Frank’s love life: only date Korean girls. Unfortunately for Frank, he’s managed to fall for a white girl in his calculus class. Fortunately for Frank, however, his childhood friend Joy is in an almost identical situation. Her parents want her to go out with a nice Korean boy, but her secret boyfriend is Chinese-American. What are two intelligent and slightly sneaky teenagers to do? Pretend to date each other to make their parents happy and secretly date their respective unsuitable significant others, of course.
What could go wrong?
Frankly in Love is honest, big-hearted, and hilarious. Yoon portrays the trials and tribulations of high school pressures and relationships very realistically, so much so that I felt myself cringing with the familiarity of it all. I adored spending time with Frank and Q, who are much like the friends I made in high school and college, many of whom I’m still close to—D&D nerds, unite! Frank’s relationship with his parents, who are both very hard-working and racist against all non-Koreans, is so well written. The reader is clearly able to see Frank’s love and admiration for them, despite struggling to understand their flaws. At the heart of the story is the age-old struggle to figure out where you belong, the choice between the family you’re born into and the relationships you cherish outside of it. I, frankly, enjoyed the heck out of this book—I read it in a single evening—right up to the bittersweet end. Look out, John Green—David Yoon’s star is on the rise.
Frankly in Love by David Yoon. Putnam, Sept. 10 $18.99 ISBN 978-1-984812-20-9