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Frankly in Love, by David Yoon; Narrated by Raymond J. Lee
Listening Library / Penguin Audio
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Frank Li can’t shake his hyphen — despite being born in SoCal and barely speaking Korean, he and his “Limbo” friends straddle two worlds as the children of immigrants, forever Korean-American and not just American. Filial duty dictates Frank fall in love with a nice Korean girl, but the heart wants what it wants and Frank falls hard for Brit, a brilliant, quirky and, well — white — classmate. Staging an elaborate fake-dating ruse with fellow dating-outside-their-culture Limbo, Joy buys both Frank and Joy some freedom from their parents’ scrutiny. As the lies — and his life — grow increasingly complicated, Frank confronts the complexities of his family, identity, and relationships, as each, in turn, crumbles. An immersive coming-of-age story with tender romance, loyal friendships, and a willingness to tackle tough questions about race and identity.
Narrator Raymond J. Lee voices Frank with an earnest tenderness befitting a high school senior in the throes of first love. Lee capably rounds out the full cast of characters without skipping a beat during exchanges of rapid-fire banter or dialect switches. The narration shifts tone ever so slightly to convey Frank’s internal monologues or text exchanges, setting each apart for the listener. The audio production is seamless, allowing this heartwarming and hilarious story to shine.
Similar stories of high school senior boys grappling with their relationships and identities include The Inexplicable Logic of My Life and Opposite of Always, and Frank’s adorkability will appeal to fans of recent movies The Perfect Date and Sierra Burgess is a Loser. Yoon’s writing will appeal to fans of character-driven writers like Adam Silvera, Jenny Han, John Green, Becky Albertalli, and, of course, Nicola Yoon.
— Kit Ballenger