Wow! I love Frank & Red for so many reasons; it is funny, it is heart breaking, it is poignant and it is life-affirming. With the news all around us through TV, radio and social media, we can struggle to escape from all the horrible things happening in the world. Matt Coyne’s debut novel enabled me to happily escape, in which I found this book to be an absolute tonic.
Both Frank and Red as characters literally jump of the page – they are so real and alive. Through the characterisation of both protagonists and the moving plot, Matt Coyne has created a vivid tapestry of life that made me cry my heart out, as well as making me smile and at times howl with laughter. Especially when Red first introduces Frank to his mum, which is comedy but also very poignant.
Frank & Red is a story of a slow burning intergenerational friendship between a miserable, grumpy man in his late 60s and a young boy struggling to come to terms with his mum and dad separating. Red is a precocious six year-old who is grappling to adapt to his new life which involves a new home and a new school where many of his fellow classmates show reluctance to welcome him. This ultimately leads to Red being bullied.
I love how Frank is introduced to us readers in the prologue of the novel. As well as really making me laugh and finding it quite relatable (however I don’t know anyone who has dealt with this situation in such a rude, comedy way as Frank), it is an evocative introduction to his character, his marriage and what he has lost in life. This prologue also brilliantly sets the scene for what’s to follow.
Recently moving next door to Frank, Red, in his innocence, is eager to connect with his rude, miserable next door neighbour, whom Red notices never leaves his house. Frank is actually a recluse, still grieving his wife who died two years ago. He is also estranged from his friends and his son.
I don’t want to give anything away, but something happens (which is funny, heart warming but also wrong and portrays how much Red admires the grumpy Fred), which forces Frank to spend a great deal of time with the ever-curious six-year old. This time is taken up with playing Guess Who, mending a garden fence and eating the weirdest sandwiches in the world. Frank and Red also argue and for only being six year-old, Red is emotionally intelligent beyond his years. Even though Frank resists it with all his might, a bond develops between the two. This bond proves to be life changing.
Frank and Red is a heartfelt, poignant novel that really reminds you about what is truly important in life. I loved both Frank and Red, as well as the other characters, especially Red’s mum Sarah and Marnie, Frank’s wife who although dead, through Frank’s character, is very much alive. This is a true life-affirming novel that I urge everyone to read.
Frank and Red was released on 1 February 2024. I loved it that much that I made it my ‘Book of the Month’ in the February issues of the South Manchester Post and Stockport Post.
Thank you to Oliver Martin from Headline Publishing for inviting me to the blog tour of such a fantastic book, and also for my advance gifted copies of Frank & Red. Reading and reviewing this novel has been a sheer joy.
To follow the Frank & Red blog tour, please see below.
Happy reading everyone! 🙂