AN AMERICAN BOOKSELLERS ASSOCIATION ADULT DEBUT HONOR BOOK
WINNER OF THE AUDIE AWARD FOR BEST FEMALE NARRATOR
LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER
A sparkling talent makes her fiction debut with this infectious novel that combines 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 after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly 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 Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders.
As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s 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 unconventional story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We mean it as a compliment when we say that Julia Claiborne Johnson’s debut novel played out in our mind like a movie. Be Frank with Me is the story of Alice Whitley, a pulled-together assistant for a New York publisher; she's sent to the Los Angeles mansion of reclusive author M. M. Banning to supervise the writing of her long-awaited second novel. When Alice is tasked with babysitting Banning’s eccentric, troubled son—a fourth-grader with the wardrobe of a dandy and the IQ of a genius—she learns a thing or two about classic movies, real-world disasters, and the meaning of love. Prepare to fall madly in love with Claiborne Johnson’s irresistible characters.
Be Frank With Me
An unusual book that might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I couldn’t put it down. The most disappointing thing to me was the ending, or the non ending. What ultimately happens to all the characters ??????
Funny, charming, touching, unforgettable!
I love everything about this book except that it ended! Every character was wonderful! Read it! You’ll see just what I mean.
Be Frank With Me
The book was fun to read but the ending ruined the story in my opinion.
I would have liked to see that Mimi was finally able to dedicate her passion to her son Frank... now that she had finally finished her book and no longer had the fear of insolvency hanging over her head. Along with her observations of Alice’s gentle coaxing of her son to overcome his fears and Zander’s presence in Frank’s life that Mimi would try to give more of herself to her son Frank
The ending was just a period at the end of a sentence. A lazy way to finish the book
One suggestion off the top of my head would have been for Mimi, Zander and Frank to have seen Alice off ... all wearing Charlie Chaplain regalia... or some other character that had a deep meaning to Frank
Mimi joining Frank in his world
Also the name of her manuscript Julian and Alice was a let down... no imagination. What if the title was “J & J Went Down the Hill”
As a reference to Julian and Jack and the sameness that they shared .. apart from the world around them.
Their uniqueness by a genetic bond to be celebrated by those who live in their world but always in the sameness and ordinary lives of their classmates, their teachers, their neighbors who don’t try to appreciate the immense qualities of people who enjoy a different world and are brave enough to go against the “ grain” of what society deems to be “ normal “