Be Frank With Me Summary & Study Guide

Julia Claiborne Johnson
This Study Guide consists of approximately 58 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Be Frank With Me.
This section contains 952 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Be Frank With Me Summary & Study Guide Description

Be Frank With Me Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson.

Be Frank With Me (Kindle version), by Julia Claiborne Johnson, begins in June, 2009. Mimi, a writer who rose to fame at the age of 19 after the publication of her first and only novel (Pitcher), is calling Isaac (the editor of Pitcher). An investor has lost all of Mimi's money. Mimi needs to write another book to remain financially solvent. She would like Isaac to send someone who can assist her while she works on her novel. Isaac sends his assistant, Alice. When Alice arrives in Los Angeles, she finds out that Mimi has a son named Frank and that her job is to take care of him and the household duties so that Mimi can write.

Frank is an odd child who dresses in the same style he sees in the old movies he loves to watch, does not like people to touch his things, and has his own set of rules that Alice must learn in order to get along with him. He also has a mysterious piano teacher named Xander who is there from time to time, but is presently away.

In the beginning, Alice and Frank spend much of their time together in the house. She decides to take him out one day, though and after finding out that it is a bad idea to go to the playground, she takes him to an airport to watch vintage planes take off. While they were gone, a postcard arrives from Xander. Frank takes Alice to the garage, which has an upper floor that the previous owner of the house used to paint in, to show her other postcards he has from Xander. Alice nicknames the place the Barbie Dream House. While there, Frank detects that his mother has stopped typing. As she comes out of her house, he runs towards her and leaps into her arms with such force that she smashes into the sliding glass door and has to go to the hospital.

As the summer comes to an end, Frank starts to see a psychiatrist again. Frank and Alice spend time in places that Frank used to frequent with his mother. One day while Frank and Alice are at a museum, Frank swears that Xander is there, too. Alice has her doubts. However, to no avail, she joins him in the search for Xander. Xander does turn up soon afterwards in Alice’s bedroom. He asks her why she is sleeping in his bed.

School starts, and it is a disaster for Frank. Alice has to pick him early on the first day because he lies down in the doorway and other students cannot get out without stepping over him. The teachers and school secretary understand him, though, and tolerate his actions until a new principal with a PH.D. in child psychology arrives. The new principal, Dr. Matthews, does not like Frank. When a new student named Fiona (whom Frank once thought could be his friend) bullies Frank, Dr. Mathews places the blame on Frank's mother for letting Frank dress the way he wants to dress. Dr. Matthews says Frank's clothes set Frank up to be bullied. In order for him to continue to go to school, Mimi has Alice buy him T-shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes. That does not work out well, either. One day Alice discovers that Frank has a letter opener that he is taking to school for protection. From that day on, he plays hooky with Alice.

While all of this is going on, Alice is having an affair with Xander. She starts to learn more about Xander and Mimi. Her knowledge about Mimi includes the fact that her best seller is based on her brother Julian who committed suicide by jumping out of a window in her college dorm. Her mother had not been happy about her writing the book and had not spoken with her afterwards. Later, Alice learns that Xander has a similar story. His sister died in a car accident due to his reckless driving. His parents had not spoken to him since, but his younger sister Sara does. She even named her son after him.

Everything comes to a head on Frank’s birthday when he accidentally sets the Dream House and the main house on fire. Mimi’s concern is the book, which she rushes to finish so that she can spend time with Frank again. After the fire, Mimi is admitted to the hospital. Xander comes to the hospital and is arrested because he is driving without a license. Isaac manages to get out of New York in spite of a blizzard. He flies to Los Angeles. Everyone thinks the book is gone.

It turns out though, that Frank managed to save it and Mimi’s old manuscripts as well. He gives the book to Alice and then gives the other manuscripts to Isaac, but not before Mimi leaves the hospital and disappears. Xander is also not around. She learns from Frank that Mimi had left him a note telling him that she had gone for a month to rewrite the book and if there was an emergency, Isaac would know where she was. As he thinks he can find hsi mother, his first concern is to find Xander whose whereabouts he really does not know. They find him through his sister, Sara. Later, Isaac realizes that he does know where Mimi is and they find her. Since coming to Los Angeles, Isaac has also discovered that he is Frank’s guardian.

With her book completed, Alice goes back to New York, leaving Isaac who says that he will join her in a couple of days. Frank and Xander send her off.

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This section contains 952 words
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