Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Review: Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Title: Be Frank with Me
Author: Julia Claiborne Johnson
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Audible
Content Alert: A little bit of sex but a pretty clean read

M. M. Banning sprung to fame in the 1970s when her only novel topped the bestseller charts. But the adulation was too much for Mimi, and she retreated to a mansion in Bel-Air, and never published another book. More than thirty years later, she's taken in by a Ponzi scheme and her publisher sends Alice to keep tabs on Mimi and help care for Frank, Mimi's nine-year-old son so Mimi can write another bestseller.

While Be Frank with Me is fascinating on many levels (who hasn't wondered what the rest of Harper Lee's life has been like, for example?), it's Alice's relationship with Frank that is at the heart of the book. Although Frank is never labeled with anything, he seems to have Asperger's (he doesn't enjoy other kids, is obsessed with vintage clothes and old movies, doesn't sleep at night, and is comforted by tight pressure). While Mimi (who is unusual and difficult herself) adores Frank, she's also a little wary of him. But I loved watching Alice fall in love with Frank as the novel progressed. Also, there's a lovely twist at the end of the novel that is exactly the opposite of what I was expecting.

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