A masterful, moving story about a teenage boy caught between faith and love, by one of Australia's finest YA writers.'Frankie believed in Heaven quite literally, as if it was another lovely world out past the stars. And when he spoke the word "love", it seemed to spring free and fly into the air like a beautiful balloon you wanted to run after. But I couldn't tell my parents about Frankie, not properly. I told them I'd made friends with the boy in the room next to mine, and how he'd come from this little town out west. I couldn't tell them how he was becoming the best thing in my world. I couldn't tell anyone, I hardly admitted it to myself.'In the 1950s, 'entering' the seminary was for ever, and young boys were gathered into the priesthood before they were old enough to know what they would lose. Tom went to St Finbar's because he was looking for something more than the ordinary happiness of his home and school.But then he discovered that being able to love another person was the most important thing of all. For Tom, loving Frankie made him part of the world. Even when Frankie was gone...
My Lovely Frankie Review
- June 27, 2017Cait (Paper Fury)Now I haven't slept in about 9 years, but woah...this book nearly changed that. I think it'd really suit people who are into quiet reflective books that have that whole rambly old-grandpa-is-telling-his-memoir-life-story-on-the-rocking-chair-while-staring-at-gumtree sort of vibe. In fact, it honestly doesn't feel like YA. It begins with Tom being like a thousand years old and going through town to try and find his long lost BFF, Frankie. Because Frankie ran away from the priest school when they Now I haven't slept in about 9 years, but woah...this book nearly changed that. I think it'd really suit people who are into quiet reflective books that have that whole rambly old-grandpa-is-telling-his-memoir-life-story-on-the-rocking-chair-while-staring-at-gumtree sort of vibe. In fact, it honestly doesn't feel like YA. It begins with Tom being like a thousand years old and going through town to try and find his long lost BFF, Frankie. Because Frankie ran away from the priest school when they were 16 and Tom suddenly thought "i AM LIKE 90 YEARS OLD I SHOULD FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM INSTEAD OF OBSESSING OVER HIM ALL DAY." Good on ya, Tom. But this just doesn't really feel YA. Excuse me. Excuse you. Excuse us all.So the dry tone wasn't for me. It felt like just reminiscing? And I didn't really connect or understand ANY of the characters. Like Tom realises pretty heckin' fast he doesn't want to be a priest, but he sticks it out because...WHY TOM.And I found the romance quite confusing. Mostly because there wasn't one. And I always feel very wary with saying I didn't like a romance that features a gay character -- because people are quick to assume that I'm a Terrible Person™ which isn't the caaaaase. My problem with it is that Tom has a mild crush on Frankie but like it's SO MILD that it didn't feel there. The biggest surge of feeling he has it like when Frankie has a loose button and Tom wants to keep it. Woah, settle DOWN MATE. Let's keep the sexual thoughts a bit calmer than that. I just thought it was a bit weak. And a bit biphobic, tbh, since because Frankie liked girls Tom vehemently said "well he'll never love me like I love him". And that was the end of that. (To clarify (view spoiler)[Frankie kissed Tom but Tom decided it didn't mean anything...because Frankie also liked girls. (hide spoiler)]) But it was set in the 1950s so maybe Tom didn't know? But the whole thing had: no sparks, no chemistry, no REAL indication that there was anything between them except Tom !! quietly !! pining !! Tom was just so gosh darn boring. I can't even.Also the book spoils itself. I mean. The first chapter is like Tom going to find Frankie who disappeared when they were kids. SO WOW. I DON'T NEED TO READ THE REST OF THE BOOK NOW. Plus I admit the actual conclusion (view spoiler)[where Tom is like 500 years old and suddenly goes "omg the school bully murdered Frankie" was RANDOM AF. (hide spoiler)]ALL AND ALL: this is a quiet and reflectful book which is violently the opposite of ME. So this could definitely be a case of "it's just; you might like this". And as always: I recommend trying any book that picks your fancy! This one didn't work for me because of (a) insipid romance that told me it was there but never showed evidence, and (b) I was heckin' bored because nothing happened except boys going to a priest school and learning to be miserable.Also a little tired of religion being evil and gay boys never being allowed to be happy. NOT A SPOILER it's literally in the first chapter...more
- April 21, 2017TrishaThought-provoking but in a gentle and considered way.Beautiful, as only Judith Clarke can be.And quite different.
- July 6, 2017Book BazaarA delicately told story of faith and love that took me to the 1950s. The life for the boys in the seminary was clearly evoked and was heartbreaking. This is a gentle story and not for those who need an action filled plot, but it is one that rewards a quiet and reflective read.more
- July 18, 2017Michael EarpThis is a gentle and reflective historical novel about the transformative power of love and the lovely world, and how destructive that can be when they're denied.
- July 17, 2017Bruce GargoyleI received a copy of this title from Allen & Unwin for review.Ten Second Synopsis:A gentle reflection on a man's teenage years in the seminary, in which he forms a relationship that he considers to be the most important of his life.Although this is classified as a YA novel, I think it’s safe to say that the setting and historical background underpinning Tom’s reflections will be lost on many current twelve to seventeen year old readers. I think it was a lucky thing that I have a background k I received a copy of this title from Allen & Unwin for review.Ten Second Synopsis:A gentle reflection on a man's teenage years in the seminary, in which he forms a relationship that he considers to be the most important of his life.Although this is classified as a YA novel, I think it’s safe to say that the setting and historical background underpinning Tom’s reflections will be lost on many current twelve to seventeen year old readers. I think it was a lucky thing that I have a background knowledge of Catholicism and the structure of the Church both on a personal level and through tertiary studies, because it allowed many parts of the book to resonate with me in a way that might not be possible for young readers of today, be they Catholic or otherwise. Couple that with the fact that the narrative style of the book is reflective, gentle and lacking in action for the majority of the novel and this may not be seen as a winner for its target age group.Nevertheless, if you have any interest in historical novels and themes of coming of age against difficult social circumstances, I would encourage you to give My Lovely Frankie a go.Tom decides, of his own accord, to enter the seminary and train to be a priest. While this may not have been a strange decision in the 1950s – indeed, for Catholic families with multiple sons, it was almost a given that at least one boy would go into the Church – for Tom, this decision could be classed as a bit unusual because he is an only child and his parents don’t seem to be particularly pious or involved in the Church. Nevertheless, Tom stands by his decision and while in the sparse, regimented and emotionally distant environment of the seminary, he meets Frankie. Frankie is a breath of fresh air in the stale corridors, and felt to me almost like a St Francis of Assisi character; the one who is out frolicking amongst the baby animals while the others are restrained by tradition and discipline from admitting to and engaging with the beauty of life. Tom becomes fascinated with Frankie and when Frankie mysteriously disappears from the seminary later, it affects Tom such that his whole life is coloured by the loss.The story opens on Tom’s dotage and the reader is privy to the importance that Tom has placed on his relationship with Frankie, fleeting though that relationship was. From there, the book flicks back to Tom’s youth, and the decisions that led him to enter the seminary – and perhaps more importantly, the decisions that caused him to remain there. Alongside the tale of friendship and unrequited romance between Tom and Frankie, the book highlights themes of emotional connection and the development of empathy (or lack of it) in an environment as restricted as the seminary.Clarke has cleverly thrown up many of the issues that are major factors in the train wreck that is the current state of Catholic clergy, including the enforced separation of young boys from their families while training to be priests, an overblown sense of superiority bestowed upon those who would be priests and a complete lack of acknowledgement or understanding about key aspects of being human, such as sexuality and emotional connection. Through Tom’s eyes, Clarke brings to light the great injustices and suffering that have been the result of such a regime, both for those within the clergy and those who have been impacted forever by the actions of clergy members.Allow me to share with you one of the most telling lines of the book for me, in which Tom reflects on the constant nighttime crying of the youngest kids at the seminary:“…it was part of our training, our formation: for us there was no use crying because no one would ever come to comfort us. Like soldiers, we were being taught to have no pity for ourselves, and even then the edge of it struck me: that if you had no pity on yourself, how could you have it for other people, ever?”My Lovely Frankie, page 119Once again, although I found the book absorbing and thought-provoking and bang-on accurate in its setting and atmosphere, I am still struggling to see how this will appeal to a contemporary audience of teenagers.more
- July 1, 2017Bookishsmaughonestly, i have yet to come across an Oz YA that i personally like. all of them seem to only have this dull tone that just makes the stories super pretentious. the MC's voice is poetic and depressing. we follow his childhood set in the 1950s. a big part of his life involves a a boy, frankie, whom we get to meet a little later in the book. this book had such a promising synopsis, yet what i read was nothing i'd expect it to be. lots of loose ends here and there, and it has religion involved in a honestly, i have yet to come across an Oz YA that i personally like. all of them seem to only have this dull tone that just makes the stories super pretentious. the MC's voice is poetic and depressing. we follow his childhood set in the 1950s. a big part of his life involves a a boy, frankie, whom we get to meet a little later in the book. this book had such a promising synopsis, yet what i read was nothing i'd expect it to be. lots of loose ends here and there, and it has religion involved in a very negative way. that trope always make me sick to the stomach for some reason. i hate that religion always has to be involved when it comes to sexual identities. i wish there are broader mediums for unmasking LGBTQ concepts. My Lovely Frankie exposes the fear and angst that comes from disclosing one's sexual identity - and one that was was deemed unacceptable in the 1950s - in a gentle way. i find it hard to follow the juxtaposition between the tone and concept. i feel like the book would have had more impact on me if the writing was more direct and honest. it was confusing for the most part (mostly because of how lyrical the tone was, as if everything they talked about was a metaphor), and a bit frustrating, because i want to relate to the characters, i want to empathise with them and their struggles, but it's really hard for me because most of the time i don't even know what the heck is going on. also there were occasional anticlimactic scenes in the book that i thought were completely unnecessary and just dragged on and on. overall i'm pretty disappointed. the ending did not give me the closure i so badly hoped for either, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but given how unsatisfied i was throughout most parts of the book, i was hoping the ending could at least make up for how i felt. instead, i was left feeling confused, annoyed, and a bit sad, really. thank you allen & unwin for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!more
- July 24, 2017爱心❤eeeuuuggghhhhkkkk most of this book was great??? the lyricism of the writing was really beautiful but then the ending was like?????????? so I dunno, even though I was kinda disappointed/put off, I feel like it had a lot of potential which is why I'm rating it a 4.more
- June 24, 2017Ashleighreceived an early copy to review from the publisher - longer review on blog.
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