Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

BE FRANK WITH ME by Julia Claiborne Johnson

Be Frank With Me‘s BB “Mimi” Manning is an author reminiscent of JD Salinger or  Harper Lee.  She published one great book years ago that was read by everyone and continues to be read in schools.  After years of living a very private and reclusive life off those royalties, she falls victim to a Bernie Madoff style Ponzi scheme and loses her fortune.  She decides to write another book.  Her editor from years ago, Isaac Vargas, is still her editor, and he sends his young publicist Alice to Bel Air  to support Mimi in whatever manner she can.  Alice thinks her support will be quite literary, perhaps transcribing the novel; what she ends up doing is caring for Manning’s 9-year-old son Frank, who is endearing and very eccentric.  Also in play in the story is the charming piano teacher slash sometimes estate caretaker, and, in the absence of Frank’s unknown father, male role model.

Be Frank with Me is a clever, witty and often preposterous debut novel reminding me a bit of Where’d You Go Bernadette.  I really enjoyed it.  It reminds me of an adult version of a good children’s novel–the ones you read aloud to your kids.  There are just enough believable details and then lots that you must accept because it is fiction and the adventure is worth the leap of faith.  Be Frank With Me is an entertaining story for the forgiving reader.