Precocious 9-year-old Frank Banning steals the show from Alice, the story’s narrator and Frank’s temporary caregiver, in this debut novel. Alice has been sent to Hollywood to watch Frank while his mother, a reclusive writer, attempts to produce a book that will save them from financial ruin. Mimi is prickly toward Alice but also welcomes a break from raising Frank, a kid who stands out in a crowd for dressing like a classic film star and spewing information in his characteristic shotgun monotone about nearly any topic. The audiobook narrator gives perfect voice to Frank who, while he has command of facts, is socially inept. Facial expressions, etiquette, figures of speech, and jokes confound him. While things happen in the book, the focus and appeal are laser-focused on a unique kid who can be exasperating, heartbreaking, and hilarious – sometimes all at once.
Readalikes: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (factual but socially handicapped, humor), Where’d You Go Bernadette (recluse, spunky but vulnerable kid. humor)