Julia Claiborne Johnson – Be Frank With Me review

Julia Claiborne Johnson Be Frank With Me

Be Frank With Me is the first novel by American author Julia Claiborne Johnson. It follows the story of reclusive author Mimi Banning, her son Frank, and Alice.

The story is told from Alice’s perspective. Alice is sent to Mimi’s Bel Air mansion by her boss, and acts as a full-time companion to Mimi’s nine year old son, Frank. The story mainly follows level-headed Alice getting to know Frank and their adventures along the way. It also focusses slightly on Alex, Frank’s elusive piano teacher. As Alice gets to know Frank and his quirks, she becomes increasingly curious about his and Mimi’s past, who his father is and Alex.

Let me preface this review by saying, it’s not an action packed book. It’s a book that allows the reader to get to know Franks and the mischief he causes. It also allows the reader to get to know Mimi’s backstory. Bits about Alex are also revealed although he is still a bit of a mystery even in the final chapters of the book.

About Frank’s Character in Be Frank With Me

Frank is probably one of the best written characters I have ever read about. He’s quirky and his outlook on things is fascinating, and the way he questions adult behaviour is humorous. He has vast amounts of knowledge about the most obscure things, which at times seems a little implausable, but entertaining none the less. Frank is absolutely adorable and through understanding his quirks, you warm to him as the book plods along.

Be Frank With Me touches briefly on romance, and also a child’s relationship with their mother. Mimi was always quite distant in the book. She tries to protect Frank in the house, but emotionally she always seemed to keep him at arms length. At times this is explored in the book through Frank’s actions and reactions towards his mother. At times it’s really quite poignant.

Review Summary Be Frank With Me – Julia Claiborne Johnson

As I mentioned above, not a whole lot happens in the book. However, the story is carried by how intriguing Frank is as a character. He sometimes causes a bit of mayhem and it is hilarious to read. It also delicately shows how Alice’s and Frank’s friendship builds up over time. I found it interesting when Alice analyses the different family dynamic compared to her own.

If you’re wanting to read a book with an appealing and off-beat central character and you’re not put off by a lack of action, I’d definitely recommend Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.

What kind of books do you usually enjoy reading?


Sarah. Almost 30. Craft beer drinker. South London resider. I like photography, boxing and visiting all of London's markets.


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