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frannie and truWhat: Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup

Who: HarperTeen

When: May 31st 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets.

2cats2I was drawn to Frannie and Tru because of the supremely gorgeous cover (I mean just look at it), and also the blurb. I thought it sounded pretty interesting, and from what it said I thought there might have been a possibility that it could be LGBTQIA+ (sadly, that wasn’t the case).

To be honest, I am not entirely sure what to think about Frannie and Tru, because I don’t really feel like there was a lot to this novel. I would describe it as a snap-shot book. Sure, most books are just a snap-shot into the lives of our characters, but those snap-shots are usually the most drama-filled or exciting or whatever moments of those lives. Frannie’s snap-shot didn’t really fall into that niche.

The snap-shot of Frannie and Tru followed Frannie’s summer, when she was fifteen and her cousin, Truman, came to stay because of troubles back home. Frannie was desperate to be his friend, to show that she didn’t care about the fact that Tru is gay, and wanted to have the best summer of her life.

Tru was Frannie’s manic pixie dream boy. He was sassy and sarcastic but also had an underlying sadness. He introduced Frannie to super cool friends, and took her drinking and clubbing, and tried to get her to smoke weed. He made her think about the assumptions she made about people and herself and experiences and life in general. He made her step outside of her comfort zone. He made her appreciate herself. He changed her. Manic pixie dream boy indeed.

Frannie was quite an interesting character. She did a lot of imaginary scenarios in her head, which really reminded me of, well, me.  When I was a teenager (and let’s be real, sometimes I do it now), I’d lie awake just trying to go to sleep, and I would conjure up these massive fantasies about what would happen with my life, and with certain people. So to read a character that has that same trait was kind of awesome, really.

During the book, Frannie realised her own prejudices and assumptions that she made about people, especially people of colour, and gay people (I say only gay because she didn’t mention any other queer identities). I liked the fact that she realised the way she had been thinking of people outside her own white, straight existence were wrong, and that she shouldn’t have been thinking like that at all. I liked that she confronted herself, and also brought those confrontations to the reader, as well. I think this aspect of the book was probably one of the best because it could bring these important discussions to people who need them or have never thought about them or wanted them confirmed. I’ve never read a book where the main character realises that their way of thinking is wrong and harmful and naïve. A+

That being said, there were moments when Frannie and her family were talking about the kid that Frannie babysits, Duncan – who is autistic – and they were very ableist discussions. II felt a little let down by the fact that the realisations that Frannie has regarding race and homosexuality didn’t also extend to her inherent ableism.

Overall, I felt like I didn’t really get much from Frannie and Tru. I felt, most of the time, like I wasn’t getting a grasp on ~ the point~ of the book. Why was I reading about Frannie’s summer with her manic pixie dream boy? Her first kiss? Her first drink? I didn’t really know what I was supposed to take away from it all. But that’s entirely personal. Everyone takes something different away from a book and perhaps that something was just missing for me in Frannie and Tru.

I think if you’re a fan of snap-shot novels, and ones where characters realise who they are in a more broad sense in that snap-shot, then Frannie and Tru is something I would recommend.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: sexual assault (of a minor), ableism (mentalism), racism, homophobia, separated parents (due to affair), physical assault, emotional abuse, and bullying in this novel

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Posted on: May 27, 2016 • By: Chiara

6 Responses to Review: Frannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup

  1. Ki says:

    This had a high rating on Goodreads the last time I checked so I was tempted to request it, but thankfully I did not! I just found the synopsis not all that interesting, and with what you mentioned in your review, I’m really glad that I didn’t want to read this.

    Kim @ Divergent Gryffindor: BLOG || VLOG

    • Chiara says:

      I thought this was going to be a magical summer book, rather than a self discovery book, so I was a little disappointed overall. There were still aspects that I appreciated, though!

  2. While this book has some healthy thinking involved in it, particularly where Frannie reflects on her life, it kind of sounds like nothing much really happens except for the coming of age. Thanks for the review Chiara!

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, this is definitely a book that focussed on Frannie coming to know herself a lot better, which isn’t really my thing, unfortunately! No problem, Jeannie <3

  3. Romi says:

    Hmm. Well I don’t think my experience with this novel is going to go far beyond the utter love I have for that quote you shared, which was completely divine (I’m seeing a trend with you picking quotes that make me feel all the feels, Chiara), which is a shame because that is a heck of a nice quote.

    Offhand, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a manic-pixie-dream-boy, but it’s a trope I really dislike, especially as it seems like such a dismissive way of covering a character and who they are, since in my experiences with the trope they don’t get explained, much, beyond their manic-pixie-dreamness. I feel like there could be so much depth to these characters, and we only get the chance to scratch the surface and see them from the eyes of the people they “change” or who fall for them.

    The thing that strikes me, overall, is that point in the story you mention where Frannie realises she is prejudiced in her thinking, because that’s such an important thing to show readers and how a character feels, it’s such a fundamental aspect of who they are, and if they start off being judgemental and then realise that isn’t okay and change, that can be such thorough character development. The fact Frannie only changed in certain aspects of her thinking, after realising she was prejudiced, though, would have been difficult to read, especially if they weren’t addressed later on.

    Another mighty fine review, Chiara, and wow. That cover is kinda like nothing I’ve ever seen in YA. How fabulous. xx

    • Chiara says:

      I know, right? I was like: why do I not love this book as much as that one divine quote? SIGH.

      Ah, yes. I feel like manic pixie dream people are all hyper but with an underlying sadness and pensiveness, and we never really get to know the meaning and cause of that sadness and pensiveness before they leave again. Which is one of the reasons I don’t like the trope.

      I really did like how Frannie came to realise that she’d been thinking in a particular way and that way wasn’t exactly the greatest way of thinking about people. But it was a bit disappointing that this realisation didn’t make it into all aspects of her life.

      Ohmygosh, I know. I ADORE IT ENDLESSLY.

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