Be Frank With Me; Julia Claiborne Frank
William Morrow - 2016
Mimi Banning is a reclusive Hollywood Hills author who has lost all her money in a ponzi scheme. As a result she is now feeling the pressure to finish another book by her deadline. To help her meet this deadline the publishing house sends Mimi an assistant named Alice Whitley who was previously working at the Genius Bar at Apple. Alice is unclear on what exactly her role will be but, she seems to fit Mimi's criteria: [No Ivy leaguers or English Majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, insane.]
When Alice arrives at the Banning mansion she is quickly introduced to Frank, Mimi's nine year old son. Frank has a photographic memory and is quirky and set in his ways. He has nothing in common with the other fourth graders in his class. He and Alice develop a unique relationship as Alice's job turns out to be as a full-time companion for Frank.
There is not a lot that happens in this story but, it's the relationship between Alice and Frank that makes this novel special. The story is told by Alice and is dialogue driven.
Frank is a terrific character, he loves to dress in top hats and cuff links and old fashion styled garb. It's easy to see why he and most other nine year olds wouldn't have a lot in common. One can assume he has some autism related diagnosis but, we never learn exactly what that is.
Julia and Frank will make you laugh and maybe even shed a tear as you get to know them. Readers who like eccentric and lovable characters should give this novel a try.