Firstly, I want to thank Allen & Unwin for sending me this book. The cover is just gorgeous isn’t it? You can buy this beautiful book here.
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…
When I started reading My Lovely Frankie, I’d forgotten the little information I knew about the story. I read the blurb on the back of the book, but it isn’t very specific. So I went in with the basic knowledge that this is a story about a boy who goes to a seminary.
I had imagined some different directions that I thought the story would go in. Boy, was I wrong. In many ways, especially in young adult, reading a book that is a little predictable can be extremely enjoyable. In the case of My Lovely Frankie, the unexpected twists in the story is why I liked it.
My absolute favourite thing about this book was the perspective of our main character, Tom. Told by an older man in his 70’s remembering his teenage years, which made the story more engaging. I loved that certain things were commented on as ‘being different in those days’ or ‘more common back then’. The acknowledgement that this character knows that times have changed, I found that very powerful.
I found Tom’s lifelong friendship with his cousin Miri very touching, they really seemed to know each other so well even though we don’t see that much evidence of how they became so close. Yet Miri is kind of, just always there. Which is an amazing type of friendship.
Frankie, our title character, was almost unlike any other character I’ve read. He was so charismatic and I know I would want to be friends with him if we met. His interactions with and interpretations of other characters was so interesting that I always felt I wanted to know more about him.
The writing is beautiful and so descriptive. I could imagine the scenes and characters so clearly. Like I’ve said, I have never read a book like this before and that is what makes it special to me. I definitely recommend this book, it’s a fantastic novel and I’m so proud that it’s Australian.