Funny You Should Ask does a good job reflecting today’s tabloid media and it’s growth. It’s also at heart a story about a man and woman growing together – and apart – over the course of a single decade. While the connection between our central twosome feels a little too instantaneous, the book in general is romantic and provides good character studies.
The article that journalist Chani Horowitz wrote about Hollywood star Gabe Parker, just days before he began filming his first James Bond film, helped launch her career and continued to boost his. So when he requests she interview him again she’s more than ready to finally tie up the loose ends of the complicated, decade-long issues she’s had with their connection. Chani and Gabe spent a weekend together for the article’s sake, a spark lignited between them – and was extinguished when Gabe immediately married his co-star, Jacinda Lockwood. Chani went on to launch a career with The Broad Sheets, a gossip website, based on that interview. In between a move from New York to LA, she becomes a well-known interviewer and marries a writer she’s dating. In between chapters that weave between Chani and Gabe’s first meeting and the present day, we watch Chani’s marriage fail and her divorce percolate. By the time Chani and Gabe meet again, he, too, is divorced, and has been through counseling for his alcohol addiction. Childhood traumas and identity issues lie between them. But do Chani and Gabe have a second chance at love on their hands?
The biggest flaw in Funny You Should Ask is its instalove element. Chani falls for Gabe pretty much immediately, and this is just as annoying as it always is. They’re both with other people when they meet and are in other relationships for the majority of the book; they reconnect when they’re both single but this makes their decade-earlier separation feel abrupt and arbitrary. Gabe is of course perfect at first – handsome, humble, a lover of dogs and frequently shirtless. But as the narrative grows legs, Gabe’s flaws appear and the author adds some interesting secondary characters. Chani has a terrific narrative voice, and the book’s exploration of journalism – specifically tabloid journalism – rings true. I liked Oliver, Gabe’s close friend (he really could’ve carried a book of his own all by himself), and Matthias.
I enjoyed the variety of storytelling here – the main body of the relationship is told in those interspersed chapters, with major events in Chani and Gabe’s lives delivered to the audience in dribs and drabs between each new chunk of the tale via reviews, articles, interviews and blog posts. This is prevented from becoming confusing thanks to the way spacer pages are cleverly employed. Sussman is talented and excellent at deploying her story in a way that makes it engaging and page turning.
Ultimately, Funny You Should Ask is a fast read with real emotional heft to it. But the romance ended up being a little hard for me to swallow.
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