BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Frankly in Love by David Yoon [in Booklist]

Frank Li witnessed his older sister be perfect: she got into Harvard, then Harvard Law, then graduated into an enviably lucrative career. For their Korean immigrant parents, Hanna could do no wrong – until she did: She fell in love with a non-Korean … and disappeared from the family.

Now that Frank is, well, frankly in love with another non-Korean, he’s gonna avoid getting disowned with the help of family friend Joy Song – who’s also hiding a non-Korean sweetheart. When their ruse turns real, true love proves more complicated than ever.

Undoubtedly cast for his shared Korean heritage, Atlanta-born Korean American actor Raymond J. Lee is, for most of the 10 hours, an energetically convincing cipher for Frank and his family and friends. Ancestry, however, most definitely doesn’t guarantee fluency. David Yoon chooses not to translate an extensive heated argument, conducted (naturally) in their native Korean, between Frank’s and Joy’s fathers; on the page, Yoon uses only hangul (Korean characters) to record their angry exchange. Lee’s halting recitation, alas, reveals his uncomfortable literacy, a regrettable disappointment to listeners expecting and deserving authenticity.

Review: “Media,” Booklist, February 15, 2020

Readers: Young Adult

Published: 2019


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