Be Frank With Me

Be Frank With Me

A Novel

eBook - 2016
Average Rating:
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"Beautifully written, brimming with insight, mystery, and benevolent wit; Julia Claiborne Johnson had me gripped from the first chapter to the final page of Be Frank With Me."?Julia Sweeney, author, actress, and comedienne Reclusive literary legend M. M. "Mimi" Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff?style Ponzi scheme, she's flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies?with a few stipulations: No Ivy Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane. When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she's put to work right away?as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer's eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of No?l Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth graders. As she gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who his father is, how his gorgeous "piano teacher and itinerant male role model" Xander fits into the Banning family equation?and whether Mimi will ever finish that book. Full of heart and countless only-in-Hollywood moments, Be Frank With Me is a captivating and heartwarming story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world. Advance praise for Be Frank With Me "Be Frank With Me is that rare, hits-me-just-right book I am always hoping to find when browsing: Witty, but never cutesy. Deeply felt, but never sentimental. Peopled with deeply flawed, fully realized characters I cared about. It pulled me in so strongly that I found myself reading in that whole-body way that is a rare and luminous pleasure after childhood, so immersed that the phone and the dogs and the kids had to work to pull me out. I loved every minute I spent in Julia Claiborne Johnson's glass house with her cast of dedicated stone-throwers. This one is special?don't miss it." ?Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of The Opposite of Everyone "There's so much to love about this novel: the hilarious one-liners, the unforgettable characters, the unexpected moments of tenderness, and all the funny, sad, poignant twists and turns this story takes. I lost myself in these pages and you will too."?John Searles, nationally bestselling author of Help for the Haunted "What a charmer this book is! From the very first page, I fell hard for Frank, an adorable oddball with an amazing brain, a wardrobe to die for, and a lonely fragility that pierced my heart again and again. When I finished, I wished him and his makeshift, off-beat family well?and immediately began missing him."?Marisa de los Santos, New York Times bestselling author of Love Walked In and The Precious One "Be Frank With Me is complex, nuanced, detailed, and profound. In other words, funny, in the best, most resonant way. Read it with both eyes because it will delight both the thinky and the feely parts of your brain."?Dave Foley, comedian and, technically, actor "Julia Claiborne Johnson has written an effervescent gem of a novel, expertly balancing on a literary tightrope between lighthearted and heartbreaking. Be Frank With Me is peopled by characters at once utterly unique and entirely authentic. I may reread this book just to spend more time with Frank."?Laura Nicole Diamond, author of Shelter Us.
Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, 2016.
ISBN: 9780062413734
0062413732
0062413732
Characteristics: 1 online resource.

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From Library Staff

Young New York publishing assistant Alice is sent to LA to serve as personal assistant to a legendary reclusive writer while she finishes a new novel. Mostly this requires looking after the author's 10-year old eccentric kid Frank. Frank is a trivia-spouting, classic-film obsessed, misfit genius ... Read More »


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CRRL_MegRaymond Aug 01, 2017

A reclusive literary legend needs money after falling for a ponzi scheme. Her new book is due, but she hasn’t actually, uhm, written it yet. So her publisher sends her an assistant to make sure the deadline is met.

AL_CHRISTINE Jun 17, 2017

I love this book! I have a child on the autism spectrum and I literally laughed-out-loud at some of the antics between Alice and Frank.

SCL_Tricia Feb 27, 2017

Mimi Banning wrote one book twenty years ago - a brilliant book that brought her wealth and fame. But Mimi is a recluse. Having fallen victim to a Ponzi scheme she must write another novel, immediately. She needs someone to watch Frank , her son, and run her household while she writes. Her publisher sends her twenty something Alice.

That's the basic premise. But the premise is only a vehicle for the most wonderful character writing. All of the players in Be Frank With Me were well written - and they're all flawed in some fashion, but it's Frank that will capture your heart.

I loved him from the first page..."Before we left the house that morning, he'd shellacked his hair like a mini Rudolph Valentino, put on a wing-collared shirt, white tie and vest, a cutaway coat, morning pants and spats. Also a top hat...."

Frank chooses his outfit carefully each day, matching plans, excursions and adventures to his outfits. That's the outside of Frank. Inside is a boy with a brilliant mind, who doesn't quite see the world as everyone else does. But despite that brilliant mind, he's still a young boy who is fragile as he tries to make sense of relationships and interactions in that world.

The dialogue in Be Frank With Me is superb - Frank's voice is wonderful and as we come to know Frank, his declarations and antics really do make sense. I loved his recollection of facts, movies and music. (And actually learned a few things as well!) But those facts serve another purpose as well..."Facts were all the protection he had. Facts were his force field." Mimi is quite prickly and at first I didn't like her. But as the novel progressed, my opinion changed. As did my views on Alice - good to bad to good. And that's what I enjoyed - no one was perfect and the ending wasn't all happy campers.

By turns, Be Frank With Me is heartbreaking, humorous and oh so very, very good. As one character says" I love that kid". Trust me - you will too.

l
LexiLou2
Dec 02, 2016

If Eloise were "on the spectrum". What more could a reader want in a character?! Claiborne Johnson has an excellent sense of humor that she articulates in a wholly satisfying way.

AL_PAMELAH Aug 16, 2016

Funny and engaging story of the extremely eccentric 9-year old Frank and his reclusive single mother Mimi, a famous author. Very warm hearted, enjoyable, and a good discussion book.

AL_ANDREW Aug 02, 2016

A charming, if maybe a little underwhelming, read. It has the always entertaining "child genius" trope going for it, which I do genuinely enjoy, though the plot left something to be desired.

a
abookandacuppa
Jul 22, 2016

Alice, a young adult, travels to California to assist a reclusive writer with her son and household duties while she works on a novel. The son, Frank, enjoys dressing like movie stars from old movies and sharing facts, especially those pertaining to actors.

Character traits are revealed as the novel progresses regarding Frank, Alice, and the writer, Mimi, along with the mysterious pianist, Xander.

Although there are some heartwarming moments and themes of acceptance and the importance of connecting with others , I was not as enamored with this book as previous reviewers.

j
Jeanneknits2
Jul 22, 2016

I enjoyed this book, especially the character of Frank who is a young boy "on the spectrum". His antics are amusing and the efforts of Alice whose job it is to help with him are admirable. The ending seemed somewhat abrupt and left too many threads unresolved. I would classify this as a good beach read.

Kaya_D Jul 20, 2016

I loved the characters in this book, especially Frank. All of his quirks made the book really fun to read.
The ending wasn't the best and a little disappointing. I didn't know what to expect but it certainly wasn't what happened.
Other than that, though I recommend Be Frank With Me.

ehbooklover Apr 16, 2016

I really, really liked Be Frank With Me. I especially liked (no, LOVED) the totally unique, quirky character of Frank. Sometimes he made me smile, other times he broke my heart. I simply couldn't say enough about how much I loved this book. That is, until I got to the very abrupt ending. It left me wanting more, but not in a good way. Hence, the missing star.

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AL_CHRISTINE Jun 17, 2017

He’s an odd duck, but brilliant children often are. It may take him a while, but someday he’ll figure out how to live in the world of ordinary mortals.

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