Review: Be Frank With Me
The elusive M. M. Banning (Mimi) is finally writing another book and has requested her publisher send her an assistant to “help her navigate computers and keep her household running.” Alice is assigned the task and quickly learns that what the job entails is keeping track of Mimi’s nine year old son, Frank. Frank is a quirky child and keeping up with him proves to be a challenge for Alice and Mimi’s crankiness doesn’t help matters.
Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson is getting lots of attention, and for good reason – it’s humorous and quaint and very entertaining. I enjoyed it a great deal but don’t think I loved it as much as everyone else has.
Alice is sent by the publishing house she works for to help Mimi, a reclusive author, so Mimi can write her next highly anticipated book. Her first book was written years ago and is a classic – in fact, it’s Alice’s mother’s favorite book. Mimi seems to resent Alice’s presence but needs her to help out with her son, Frank. I couldn’t quite figure Frank out – he’s obsessed with classic Hollywood movies and dresses and speaks like someone much older than his nine years. He doesn’t like to be touched and struggles with changes. He’s one of those kids who gets along better with adults than he does with his peers. At times I thought he had Asperger’s but I was never quite sure since the story is told from Alice’s perspective.
I really liked Be Frank With Me as I read it but did have a few issues with it. Alice had little experience with children and none with children like Frank, and Frank suffered in social situations, yet the two of them formed a strong bond very quickly. I wasn’t sure what to make of Xander – a character who came in and out of their lives – either. I was pulled into Frank’s story, though, so this was a fast read for me. I think book clubs will enjoy this book, too, because of the fun characters and unique story line.