I received an Advance Reader Copy of Frank the Painter. I selected it because it sounded interesting and something a bit different to what I normally read - and it did not disappoint there.
I spent the first part of this book confused and concerned about what I'd picked up. Kaplan writes in so many controversial topics in such a way that at first I wasn't sure if this was hate speech, satire, or normalising. I'm honestly still not 100% sure, but I think we're balanced between satire and normalisation.
Combined with the social commentary of what the world should look like. There are so many poignant lines in Frank the Painter that genuinely stopped me in my readthrough to make me think.
At times, I felt this was a personal essay full of Kaplan's personal beliefs and block paragraphs with political statements - most of which I wholeheartedly agree with.
Frank the Painter is a frustratingly altruistic main character who gets himself into trouble by trying to be good and do good. He is good-natured, yet chaotic, and we learn later why this might be.
The cast of characters around Frank is certainly diverse, ranging from circus performers to mobsters to drug addicts to children. The characters have deep conversations and dangerous interactions with each other that makes for a compelling story that ranges over multiple decades.
The only issue I have with the timescale is that the concept of time is not clearly stated. I wasn't sure if this was all happening in the space of a year or, as was the case, several decades.
Kaplan touches on topics such as sexualising little people, stalking, intersex children, eating dog, adopting Asian children, adultery, mob life, mental illness, idolatry, religion, terrorist attacks, prison, homelessness, police brutality, Black Lives Matter, charity, drug abuse, corrupt governments, and so much more.
I list these out above because you need to know what you're getting into with this book. Frank the Painter's ordinary and predictable life absolutely gets turned upside down, landing him in a world of intrigue, controversy, pain, and realism.
I would recommend this to people interested in current affairs and social commentary. This is not a read for anyone looking for a light-hearted book.
I'm an avid YA/Fantasy reader who's very, very slowly working on my first novel. I used to read exclusively mystery books and still love them, too!
I write terribly good Harry Potter fanfiction, explore Skyrim, Azeroth, and Northern Ireland, crochet any & everything, & cook epic vegan meals.