Be Frank with Me
by Julia Claiborne Johnson

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“Frank is a character not soon Forgotten. He will likely steal your heart.

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More About Be Frank with Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Click Here For the Autographed Copy
“Frank is a character not soon Forgotten. He will likely steal your heart. This wonderful novel, charms, beguiles and satisfies. Be Frank With Me is filled with humor and love and a big heart. Prepare to smile!” - Terrance G. Finley, President and Chief Executive Officer

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A sparkling debut combining the charming pluck of Eloise, the poignant psychological quirks of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the page-turning spirit of Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

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.

When Alice Whitley arrives she's put to work as a companion to Frank, the writer's eccentric son, who has the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders. The longer she spends with the Bannings, the more Alice becomes obsessed with two questions: Who is Frank's father? And will Mimi ever finish that book?

Full of countless only-in-Hollywood moments, Be Frank With Me is a heartwarming story of a mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who is pulled into their unforgettable world.

Julia Claiborne Johnson has struck gold in creating Frank Banning a one-of-a-kind exasperating, witty, and endearing nine-year-old genius who functions as the beating heart of this marvelous book. Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members"

  • ISBN-13: 9780062413710
  • ISBN-10: 0062413716
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: February 2016
  • Page Count: 304

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Family Life
Books > Fiction > Humorous - General

BookPage Reviews

Little family, big quirks

Legendary writer M.M. “Mimi” Banning hid herself away after feeling suffocated by the fame that accompanied winning a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award at age 20. The only piece of work the reclusive author has managed to produce since then is her son, Frank, a brilliant fourth-grader who uses smart 1930s garb—like pocket squares and wingtips—and facts about the movie business as armor. But after losing her fortune, the tetchy literary talent must write a new book ASAP. 

Enter Alice Whitley, an assistant deployed by Mimi’s editor to travel from New York City to L.A. to make sure Mimi is working. But Mimi doesn’t want Alice’s help, and Alice instead finds herself tasked with being Frank’s companion. Both taken with and frustrated by Frank’s eccentricites, Alice can’t help but be curious about the identity of the boy’s father—and how his handsome, flirty piano teacher fits into the cloistered family’s life. Meanwhile, Alice gently urges the frequently unpleasant Mimi to please, please finish her book.

In her debut, Julia Claiborne Johnson ably conjures a quirky cast and a privileged California world. Be Frank with Me is about being an outsider and the ways in which differences help others see the world in a new way. Like Frank, this offbeat story has a big heart.


This article was originally published in the February 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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