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Book Club Choices: Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

One thing is guaranteed, there is no one in the world quite like Frank. That’s what Alice found out when the boss at her publishing company deployed her to California to encourage the reclusive M.M. Banning, author of one award-winning novel, to complete her second. She was also asked to be an au pair to Frank, Banning’s son, a 9-year-old genius with serious emotional issues and off-the-charts charm.

Frank is a boy who remembers everything and, therefore, has encyclopedic knowledge about just about everything—especially about early 20th century film, an interest he shares with Alice (and with us lucky readers!). A very natty dresser with his own style (think tuxedos, cravats, driving coats, goggles, and top hats), along with a penchant for completely shutting down when distressed (think playing dead), he is of course the butt of every school child’s jokes.

What saves Frank from total despair is a small but intense network of support from his mother, her sometimes handy-man, Xavier, and his psychiatrist. Eventually Alice becomes part of that small network, though it isn’t an easy beginning. During her first day Alice causes a major meltdown and learns that Frank has two rules which must never be violated: rule number one, no touching Frank’s things: rule number two, no touching Frank.

A most endearing character, Frank will steal the hearts of anyone who lets him in, and that will undoubtedly be anyone who reads this book.

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson. William Morrow, 2016.

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