Be Frank With Me - Julia Claiborne Johnson
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 kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.
When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noël Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth graders.
As she gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who his father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.
Full of heart and countless only-in-Hollywood moments, Be Frank With Me is a captivating and heartwarming story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.
When I saw this book come up on my possible review titles, I jumped at the chance because I had seen a quick blurb about it on Goodreads and it sounded so odd but cute that I had to jump. And I am so glad I did!
Alice reminds me so much of myself and Mimi reminds me so much of a boss I once had. You never knew if she liked you but you knew that 99% of the time she would physically hurt you if she could because she just really didn't like life in general. Then you'd get those small moments where you think, "maybe she secretly likes me!" and you know it's fleeting because she doesn't like anyone. So to say that I identified with Alice in this book is a huge understatement.
But Alice is in need of a steady, regular job and this one has everything she needs and she has the opportunity to get to know M.M. Banning, who at one time, was this up and coming writer when out of nowhere she seemingly tossed it all aside and became a recluse. The way M.M. Banning is set up immediately reminded me of Harper Lee after To Kill A Mockingbird. Mimi is now broke after being scammed by a ponzi scheme (Bernie Madoff, anyone?) and is now being reluctantly forced to write the follow up of her breakout and classic novel, Pitched. In order for her to do that she needs a live in person to take care of the house but more importantly, her kind of strange son Frank who has two major rules and is an old Hollywood buff. Alice struggles learning how to relate to Frank and just when she thinks maybe she's reached buddy status with him, he reminds her that she is really just staff and she can go at any time. He's overly attached to his mother who appears to be fighting her own set of demons all alone and Alice finds herself trying to figure this family out.
So many say it but truly, the characters of this book are what make it outstanding. It's also a debut novel which is also amazing because Julia Claiborne Johnson just wrote the hell out of this book and you can't put it down. Frank is such a bizarre little boy and you want him to be OK, and you really start to feel like Alice as she tries to crack the puzzle of this family. The book was so fun and you found yourself kind of sad when it ended but also kind of relieved because what ELSE could possibly happen? It's so great.
You can find Be Frank With Me on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. See what Julia Claiborne Johnson is up to on her Facebook and Twitter pages, too!
The best part is that I have not one, but FIVE, copies of Be Frank With Me to giveaway! The first five people to leave a comment on this post about the worst boss you've ever had, will win one! But remember- you MUST leave me your email address so I can contact you!