I loved Frankly in Love by David Yoon.
It was uplifting and reassuring that my school was finally requiring students to read a book with an Asian-American protagonist. I enjoyed reading about a story that touched on topics that I related to as someone with a similar cultural background to the main character.
When I read “Frankly in Love: An Easy Read or An Unrealistic Portrayal of Teenage Years?” I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I felt as though a vital group of opinions on the summer reading book was left out.
The aim of the book is not to relate to all teenage experiences; it is to call attention to the experience of feeling a disconnect between a person’s chosen culture and the culture of their loved ones. Frankly in Love tells the beautiful story of making important sacrifices to gain parental approval. The novel portrays unconditional love and respect towards parental figures even when your virtues fundamentally differ from theirs. It outlines a path of realization and connection towards one’s outward and inherent identity.
Frankly in Love tells the story of a rebellious teenager who also craves their parent’s validation. I relate to the narrative Yoon provides in some ways, but what was more valuable to me was hearing an experience that is not exactly the same as mine. After reading the article my peer wrote, I valued the opinion of the writer and their interview subjects, but I felt like there was a gaping, empty space in the article. I crave the opinion of students with immigrant parents who relate to the piece heavily. I crave the opinion of students who have a similar identity to the protagonist. I thought reading this book would be a way for me to connect with not only my own culture but members of the Grace community with a similar cultural background as me.
Miranda C. ‘24 explains, “I can relate to the family relationships, high academic standards, and the disconnect that causes.” Miranda was able to relate her familial circumstances to the ones of Frank’s in the novel. She says, “it was comforting to read a book that shows how other people share similar experiences and my feelings are not only specific to me.”
Ara K. ‘22 had a slightly different view of the novel. In an email, Ara wrote: “The casual racism, disconnect in parent-child communication, and difficulty navigating being Korean American were particularly relatable.” However, Ara also suggested that “if parts [of the novel] were a little more nuanced and developed, and less sub-plot points were jammed in for the sake of being jammed in, Frankly in Love could have been a much better novel.” Ara found aspects of the novel relatable but wished that these aspects were more clear and focused.
Colette L. ‘22 said she was displeased with the novel. “Yoon seems to highlight Frank’s struggles between his Asian-American counter identity and his Korean-American counter identity,” Colette wrote. “This is a very specific narrative that not many people can relate to.” Colette complained that “Yoon generalized the Asian American perspective, and did not particularly give rise to a new voice.” Colette’s insights demonstrate how not everyone agrees with my perception of the relatability of Frankly in Love.
After hearing and reading the opinions of these three students, I have a much more complete set of views on the book. I am interested in the opinions of anyone else that I was not able to reach out to. I am interested in opinions that differ from my own. A major reason to have an entire community read the same book is to open up conversations. I hope this article and information is able to open up the conversation even more. If I were able to vote on what I would be required to read over the summer, Frankly in Love would have my vote completely. I encourage my peers, classmates, and students at Grace to find joy in hearing perspectives that differ from their own.