Be Frank With Me: A Novel
Delightfully comedic, smart, and endearing, Julia Claiborne Johnson’s novel Be Frank With Me is an enjoyable debut that celebrates otherness. Decades following the immediate success of her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, literary recluse Mimi Gillespie, has been cheated of the fortune she made from the only novel she ever published. To keep from losing everything, Mimi must quickly publish another book; she contacts her literary agent, requesting a generous advance and a full-time assistant to manage Mimi’s secluded house in L.A. and to take care of Mimi’s 9-year-old son Frank. Caring, yet tough-as-nails, Alice Whitley slowly begins to connect with Frank, a peculiar, intelligent, and perhaps autistic boy obsessed with old Hollywood, historical facts, and 1930s fashion. However, Alice’s attempt to break down Mimi’s icy barrier and encourage the progress of Mimi’s novel may prove to be futile.
Told with witty narration, Be Frank With Me is enchanting. Johnson’s characters are refreshingly offbeat, perfectly flawed, and unafraid of being their true selves. Though a number of improbable incidents occur in the novel, readers will find it impossible to not be swept away by Frank’s lovable oddities. Johnson delicately balances ebullience with inspiring heartfelt moments. Be Frank With Me is a charming debut, irresistible to any reader who simply wants to be entertained.
Julia Claiborne Johnson