Review: ‘Be Frank With Me’ by Julia Claiborne Johnson

One of the great perks of being a bookseller is being able to borrow a book from the store. As long as it comes back undamaged and in sellable condition (ie. no broken spine) I have an infinite number of books at my disposal. Of course, I have a habit of still just buying the book anyway, because what bookworm doesn’t want to own ALL THE BOOKS? Anyway, I started Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson as a preview on my Kobo and then remembered that I have this great perk available to me, so I grabbed a copy from the shelf realizing that I could kill two birds with one stone… read a good book and shoot some #bookstagram photos.

Synopsis: M.M. (Mimi) Banning wrote one book that took the world by storm and then promptly locked herself away from society and never published again. Now Alice, a young assistant sent by the publisher, has been tasked with helping Mimi in any way necessary to produce another book, including being a nanny for the mysterious Frank, a child no one even knew existed. Tasked with keeping things under control while Mimi locks herself away to write, Alice has to learn the rules of this strange house quickly, because Frank is unlike any other 9-year old boy she has ever met.

I don’t know if any one else who has read this had the same experience, but I basically imagined Mimi as Harper Lee the entire time. Although Lee never had a kid, I can imagine that if she did this would be her life story. Both women wrote one book that became an instant classic, and then essentially locked themselves away from society. The pressure of being famous for their work was too overwhelming and forced them to disengage from the rest of the world to get some peace.

Even though Alice is the narrator of this book, Frank is definitely the star. He’s an eccentric kid who loves to wear suits and top hats, knows an infinite number of facts about historical events, and sporadically collapses to the ground when people don’t follow his rules of conduct. He’s the kind of kid that you would dread having to babysit, but who eventually grows on you once you learn how to deal with his quirks. I think Alice was probably the perfect person to become part of that household because she has her own set of quirks that make her more sympathetic to the odd little family.

This was a really easy read. I flew through it in an afternoon. The writing was engaging and the story moved at a quick enough pace that I was eager to find out what would happen next. This is another book that has me at once hoping it continues in a sequel, but at the same time feeling completely satisfied with the ending. I enjoyed the characters so much that I would love to revisit them some day.

LC rating: 3-stars (quick fun read, would read another in the series)

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2 thoughts on “Review: ‘Be Frank With Me’ by Julia Claiborne Johnson

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  1. I tried so hard finding a job at my local bookstore when I was a teen *just* so I could have access to possibly borrowing books. It didn’t work out sadly, but libraries work almost just as well. πŸ˜› This sounds like a cute read — thanks for sharing your review!


    1. I applied for years and years at the local bookstores with no success. I always tell people who desperately want to work in a bookstore that the most important factor in getting chosen is being known. I visited my current store nearly every weekend to buy books, so when I happened to be looking for a job, and they happened to be hiring, it just fell into place.

      Thanks for dropping by!


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