The Indies Introduce are selected by two panels of booksellers who choose 10 adult books and 10 children’s books as the best debuts of the season. Here are the books for children and teens selected for Winter/Spring 2020:
Efren Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Into the Tall, Tall Grass by Loriel Ryon
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim
The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke
Layoverland by Gabby Noone
Private Lessons by Cynthia Salaysay
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
The Silence of Bones by June Hur
Stay Gold by Tobly McSmith
Frankly in Love by David Yoon (9781984812209)
Frank Li’s parents expect him to date only Korean-American girls. They make racist comments about all other races, even though Frank’s best friend Q is black. So when Frank breaks the rules and starts dating Brit, a white girl, he has to come up with a cover story. That’s where Joy comes in, she is a fellow Korean-American also caught in her families rules and she is also dating a non-Korean. So the two of them create a system where they pretend to date one another while actually dating other people. It’s the perfect plan until it falls apart as Frank learns what love is. Meanwhile, Frank’s family faces health issues and violence. Frank realizes that while his family may never understand him, he loves and needs them in his life.
Yoon has created one of the hottest YA titles of the fall. To my delight, it’s popular for a reason. Yoon’s frank exploration of racism both societal and within one family is refreshingly honest, not ever ducking away from difficult and deep conversations. The interplay of that and other serious topics with an almost rom com escapade of fake dating makes for an intoxicating mix.
Frank Li (whose name is a delight) is a wonderful protagonist. He is immensely smart and not overly naive. His personal take on his heritage and culture grows and changes throughout the novel in an organic way. There are no easy answers offered here, no final moment of clarity. Instead it is all about growth and the ability to understand one another and find connection, even after it has been damaged or severed.
A great teen novel that is a marvelous mix of romance and depth. Appropriate for ages 13-18.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Putnam.