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Be Frank With Me

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  18,981 ratings  ·  3,123 reviews
Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years, but now she’s writing her first book in decades and to ensure timely completion her publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kid ...more
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by William Morrow (first published January 29th 2016)
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Amy I absolutely loved this book. I'm still in love with the characters, the plot and the really snappy writing. Wish I could read it again for the first …moreI absolutely loved this book. I'm still in love with the characters, the plot and the really snappy writing. Wish I could read it again for the first time. (less)
Jeri Preston In my trade paperback version from William Morrow (2016), yes.
In my trade paperback version from William Morrow (2016), yes.

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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,981 ratings  ·  3,123 reviews

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Joshilyn Jackson
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are very few writers who are writing exactly, exactly the books I want to read. The kinds of books Marisa de los Santos writes, or Tayari Jones, or Julianna Baggott, or Lydia Netzer. The kind of books I try very hard to write. You know---the ones that make you FEEL things and yet never get treacly or manipulate the weep or sell out for the TOO happy ending that I am too pragmatic and jaded to believe in. Books where the language matters A WHOLE LOT but the point of the sentence is never ju ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Frank is the definitive star of this story and seriously I can't remember the last time I have enjoyed a character more. Frank, is nine, going on forty in some ways, yet emotionally still a child. He is smarter that a ridiculous amount of the population and loves old movies and the dialogues of old movies of which he is expert at reciting. His style of dressing is wonderful, but very strange for a nine year old. Frank, is eccentric, he is different which means he has a hard time with his classma ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: Kelly (and the Book Boar)
I almost had Kelly hunting me down for some stabby stabby.

Because I didn't really like this book. I wasn't impressed with the storyline or most of the characters.

But there is Frank.
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“I love that kid,” he said. “Get in line.”

If you would have told me a book about a quirky nine year old kid would end up being one of the best things I’ve ever read, I probably would have assumed you were smoking some wacky tobacky. But then I met Frank.

Frank comes to us via way of Alice – an assistant at a publishing house who has been assigned the potentially daunting task of being live-in help while reclusive author M.M. Ba
To meet nine-year-old Frank, is to meet Sheldon Cooper, of The Big Bang Theory-fame, as a boy. Frank is 99.9% brighter than most people, captured in a sort of Asperger's mind, with a flat-toned voice and an absent sense of humor by circumstances, or, default. Reactions are best when programmed. Knock! Knock!, as a prerequisite to any joke, means he is suppose to laugh. Otherwise he doesn't get it. His best friends are characters in 1930 movies, which he emulate in his wardrobe, and a dictionary ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

What drew me to this book initially was the title. I loved all of the different meanings you could draw from it, the idea of a quirky boy ... and the cover is teal - a colour that I'm drawn to, what can I say.

Unfortunately the honeymoon ended there. Be Frank With Me had all the makings for a great read for me but then it didn't deliver and I struggled to get engaged with the plot and its characters. Sadly, I found myself skimming through some of the chapters in the second h
Be Frank with me by Julia Claibourne Johnson is a 2016 Willam Morrow publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

With the wealthy and secluded Bel Air as a backdrop, the relationship between a reclusive “one hit wonder” author and her delightful, but complicated son, Frank , sets the stage for this offbeat, put poignant story.

Think along the lines of Harper Lee or J.D. Salinger and you have M.M. Banning, or Mimi, to her close
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“’Frank will be okay, Alice,’ Mr. Vargas said. ‘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.’”

Be Frank With Me is the first novel by American author, Julia Claiborne Johnson. When reclusive author, M.M.Banning (aka Mimi Gillespie) contacts Isaac Vargas, her New York publisher, to ask for help with a new book, he is prepared to bend over backwards to assist. Years ago, her first (and only) b
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Good grief, this book was just adorable from start to finish. Frank is one one of the sweetest characters that is so perfectly formed that you just want to give this sweet little boy a hug when you get done with this book. I found myself giggling through some of Frank's antics and well up when he just couldn't fit in with his peers. I can't imagine the research that went into forming all of Frank's numerous thoughts about actors, movies, and all the fun facts that he had gathered over the years ...more
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ by: Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Shelves: humour
I loved the beginning. I loved Frank. One of the best child characters I have ever read. I loved some of the humour.

For example;

"If you asked me why a chicken would want to cross the road in Los Angeles, I would say it was because that chicken loved pancakes so much he wanted to be one.

I loved the message that I took from this story, which is that tolerance is A Very Good Thing. My daughter, while not as flamboyant as Frank, didn't want to dress like other girls. & even through bullying sh
All the stars go to sweet, adorable, unconventional Frank.

The behavior, routines, fixations, hypersensitivity, and social processing of Frank's character all point to Aspergers or some form of high-functioning autism, although it is never actually spelled out in the novel. The absence of labels allows for showing versus telling during his character building which I loved. Through an adult's POV, we get to follow Frank around and for real fall in love with this little guy. It was interesting to
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kobo
First, there is nothing wrong with the writing of this story. This is actually a fairly solid debut novel. I am significantly below the average rating But (and I might as well be screaming), every. character. drove. me. crazy. I FORCED myself to finish the story in the hopes that it would get better. I am left feeling fairly "blah" about the whole thing.
On the surface, Be Frank with Me greets us as a fairly light, quirky novel about the reclusive authoress Mimi Banning, her eccentric nine year old son Frank, their elusive handyman and piano teacher Xander, and Alice. She is employed to edit Mimi's new book, provide support as a general "Girl Friday" and attend to Frank. Alice is the steady narrator, the "sane" individual requested by Mimi for what proves to be an adventurous and unusually challenging period with this motley crew of characters w ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
M. M. "Mimi" Banning has published only one book in her lifetime but it was a tremendous success and made her wealthy and famous. Now, after having been cheated by an unscrupulous investment counselor, she needs to write a second book to support herself and her nine-year-old son, Frank. Her publisher, Isaac Vargas, sends his employee, Alice Whitley, to LA to help out--cook meals, clean and keep watch over Frank so that Mimi can lock herself away to write. Of course, he also wants Alice to keep a ...more
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There’s a certain quirky charm to this book that you just can’t help falling for, even though for the early part of the book I wasn’t so enamoured by little Frank, his neurotic habits along with his equally annoying and maddening mother grated on me at first so I wasn’t expecting to be charmed by them at all. Frank is definitely a one of a kind eccentric character, a know it all child genius with a fondness for dressing up and classic old movies, his inability to fit in with kids in his age grou ...more
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julia Claiborne Johnson has created an original collection of eccentric, clever characters who wander aimlessly through 287 pages. This was a mostly enjoyable read which became a bit of slog as it became clear that nothing was going to happen.
Read In Colour
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE Frank & everyone else in this book. It's like a mashup of what I imagine a Harper Lee-like author is like and Bernadette from Where'd You Go, Bernadette plus every other quirky character you've ever met in the body of a 10 year old child & his mother. I'm going to need this optioned into a movie ASAPtually. ...more
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
"Be Frank with Me" by Julia Claiborne Johnson left a lot to be desired. I had a high hopes for this novel and I enjoyed the first 100 pages, but the story and premise quickly went off in a direction that didn't make a lot of sense to me. And I wasn't crazy about the writing. Very choppy. The protagonist, Alice, was quite boring. Frank was too eccentric, and don't believe a little boy would talk in such a grown-up way, eccentric or not. It just felt false and patronizing. Frank's emotionally aloo ...more
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
’Frank will be okay, Alice,’ Mr. Vargas said. ‘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.’

3.5 stars. A beautiful, heartwarming story, but I have to agree with a lot of people that the real substance in Be Frank with Me lies in the characters. Frank, being at the center of the story, is quirky, amazingly intelligent and endearing, but the author also shows us the downside of being one in a
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4*s with many 5* Frank moments!
Kelly(and the Book Boar) made a prefect comment, "I don't promise the story is great, but I dare anyone not to be smitten with Frank." It was "interesting to meet the other characters, but Frank stole the show"( Jennifer). I totally agree with Diane, who described the book as "delightful,funny, poignant, and heartbreaking" I listened to the audio version and I really enjoyed it. As Joyce said-"The narrator wonderfully portrays Frank and his shotgun monotone."
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Laugh out Loud dialogue and one can only wish t be at the dinner table when the author and her comedic husband discuss the days events. Frank is one of the most original characters that I have read in along time-5 enthusiastic stars !!
Luanne Ollivier
Feb 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Okay, I'm just going to start this post off by saying that Julia Claiborne Johnson's debut novel, Be Frank With Me, is going to be one of my favourite reads of 2016.

Mimi Banning wrote one book twenty years ago - a brilliant book that brought her wealth and fame. But Mimi is a recluse. And now she's a broke recluse, having fallen victim to a Ponzi scheme. So, she needs to write a new novel. You see, it's not just Mimi - she has a nine year old son named Frank to support. She needs someone to watc
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Alice, a young publishing assistant, is sent from New York City to Los Angeles to encourage one-hit wonder and Harper Lee type M.M. Banning (aka Mimi Gillespie) to produce her long-delayed second novel. But when she arrives she discovers her most pressing duty is keeping an eye on Mimi’s oddball son, nine-year-old Frank. I doubt you’ve ever met a character quite like Frank. (I appreciated how, although he is clearly on what would be termed the autistic spectrum, Johnson avoids naming his conditi ...more
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh god… where to start?! I loved everything about this book but it’s the characters which set it apart from anything else I’ve read recently.

MM Banning (Mimi) reeks of Harper Lee – an enigma, famous for her one and only award-winning book written decades ago. Interestingly she’s probably the character we get to know least in this story. She’s aloof, prickly and unpredictable. Readers will occasionally question her mothering skills but there’s no doubt she loves her son. Desperately.

Alice is lik
Whispering Stories
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Be Frank With Me immediately stood out with its bright teal cover and simple artwork – I enjoyed the aesthetic and it fits perfectly with the persona of Frank, too.

Be Frank With Me is told through the eyes of Alice, a young twenty-something sent to help out at the home of M. M. Branning (Mimi) whilst she knuckles down and writes a sequel to her one hit wonder novel. However, it isn’t just boring house cleaning and upkeep – Alice also has to look after Mimi’s eccentric son, Frank, who is the real
Jonathan K
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Were I in Hollywood strolling along and catch a glimpse of Frank, the immediate assumption would be that he's a midget actor on break during a shooting. How wrong I'd be! A ten year old, eccentric, high IQ oddball that not only dresses like characters from classic films of the 40s, but has knowledge of them akin to a film school professor. Quirky, loving and at times playful , he's more adult than child. The author contrasts this character with precision through his mother Mimi, a bitchy, high s ...more
Cindy Burnett
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Be Frank with Me is a sweet story that I am glad I read. Frank is a sweet, quirky, brilliant boy who will grow up and change the world. Sadly, society does not always value these children when they are young and out of step with the rest of their generation. He struggles with the social aspects of school and has been asked to leave many schools due to his inability to fit in. His mother Mimi, an author with one great book, has been swindled out of their entire savings and must write ano
This book is an easy read and mostly lighthearted with an interesting cast of characters. I think it would be a good read especially when you need a break from all the heavy and dark emotional books we sometimes string together. This is contemporary fiction that is staged around an author needing to write a book and an editor's assistant that goes to stay with said author to make sure she has no distractions while writing the book. The assistant takes care of the author's child, among other thin ...more
Thanks in advance for bearing with me here, as this book is quite difficult to review without spoilers. Also, I dislike re-hashing plots, so I'm assuming my readers have read the Goodreads blurb first for that.

I've read a review where Alice is described as an empty, cardboard figure; I can't go along with that at all, as I found her easy to identify with, although I saw her as a bit older than 24. Mimi, the one-hit wonder writer (Harper Lee figure), I found generally difficult to take as she was
Feb 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
Frank is "eccentric". If he had been portrayed as a child with an anxiety disorder or autism or something like that, in a story about a nanny who helps him navigate the world while his mother buckles down to write her novel, we might have something. But what we really have is a child who is overindulged, spoiled, to whom adults have capitulated. He strikes me as having been taught and reinforced in his eccentricities, especially the uncharming and dangerous behaviors. He is allowed to get away w ...more
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Julia Claiborne Johnson is the author of the bestselling Be Frank with Me, a finalist for the American Bookseller’s Association Best Debut Novel Award. She grew up on a farm in Tennessee before moving to New York City, where she worked at Mademoiselle and Glamour magazines. She now lives in Los Angeles with her comedy-writer husband and their two children.

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