Funny You Should Ask is a romance novel, but I think it’s the sort that those who don’t read romance will flock to, perhaps even more than romance readers. Don’t let the cover and title fool you – this is no rom com. I deeply felt this second chance romance about Chani and Gabe, a journalist and a movie star she interviewed one fateful weekend ten years ago.

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The summary, from Amazon:

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A restless young journalist with big dreams interviews a Hollywood heartthrob—and reunites with him ten years later to discover exactly how he feels about her in this sexy and engrossing novel

“You will absolutely devour this book. It’s filled with delightful banter, hot romance, and a love story that’s worthy of the big screen.”—Kate Spencer, author of In a New York Minute and host of Forever35

Then. Twenty-something writer Chani Horowitz is stuck. While her former MFA classmates are nabbing high-profile book deals, all she does is churn out puff pieces. Then she’s hired to write a profile of movie star Gabe Parker: her number one celebrity crush and the latest James Bond. All Chani wants to do is keep her cool and nail the piece. But what comes next proves to be life changing in ways she never saw coming, as the interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that has the tabloids buzzing—and Chani getting closer to Gabe than she had planned.

Now. Ten years later, after a brutal divorce and a healthy dose of therapy, Chani is back in Los Angeles as a successful writer with the career of her dreams. Except that no matter what new essay collection or online editorial she’s promoting, someone always asks about The Profile. It always comes back to Gabe. So when his PR team requests that they reunite for a second interview, she wants to say no. She wants to pretend that she’s forgotten about the time they spent together. But the truth is that Chani wants to know if those seventy-two hours were as memorable to Gabe as they were to her. And so . . . she says yes.

Alternating between their first meeting and their reunion a decade later, this deliciously irresistible novel will have you hanging on until the last word.

Buy Funny You Should Ask here.

Ten years ago, Chani got her big break when she interviewed Gabe. He’d just been cast to play James Bond, but the criticism was already rolling in. Her task was to write an article that would get the public on board with his role – and she succeeded. But the article was infamous, too. Chani and Gabe ended up spending the entire weekend together, and though she was insistent that nothing happened between them, it left fans wondering.

Now, Chani and Gabe aren’t the people they were that magical weekend a decade in the past. Both are divorced, and Gabe’s career is slowly resurfacing after being in and out of rehab for alcoholism. When another interview, recreating that initial lunch from all those years ago, is set up between Chani and Gabe, they have a second chance at what almost happened all those years ago.

The dual timeline made sense for this story, though I was often more eager to read about the present day than the past. I think what Sussman did so well in showing the two timelines was proving how much life had changed for Chani, but she hadn’t grown much. She still has the same fears and insecurities as she did ten years ago. Many are understandable. In the few times she interacted with Gabe since that interview, he wasn’t the best person to her.

This book definitely isn’t a romantic comedy, and I struggled to really feel like it was a romance in general. I spent most of the time frustrated, but I think that’s a sign of Sussman’s good writing – Chani, our narrator, is entirely frustrated too – sexually, by her public image, with herself, by Gabe, by her ex-husband Jeremy. (Though I will say the part that frustrated me the most was when Chani blacked out at a party after not drinking and… eating too many jelly beans? Were these “edible” jelly beans? She never questions why a hangover and a lot of sugar made her feel so funny or even says, “Oh, they were those kinds of jelly beans!”) This is a readalike for The Roughest Draft, which left me feeling the same way. We get our happily ever after, but there’s some serious pain along the way.

Funny You Should AskFunny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this one but I’m not sure how I feel about it as a romance, though Chani’s story with Gabe is the central plot. Chani interviewed movie star Gabe ten years ago, convincing the world he’d make the perfect James Bond despite criticisms regarding his casting, and leaving fans wondering what really happened that weekend they spent together. Now, Chani and Gabe have been asked to recreate that famous interview. Ten years later, both are divorced, and Gabe has been through rehab for alcoholism a number of times.

The dual timeline in this story is interesting because it shows how little Chani (whose POV the entirety of the novel is from) has grown as a person in these ten years. Her career has taken off, but she still takes criticisms deeply personally and fears a relationship with Gabe – though understandably, he’s put her through the ringer during their few interactions these past ten years. I loved the passage where she was hating on herself ten years ago, and Gabe asked if she’ll feel that way ten years from now. “Yes! And it’s deserved!” As a fellow introspective writer, I related a lot.

IDK what’s stopping me from being completely on board with this as a romance. It is, but… Is it romancey enough for me? I think I just felt deeply frustrated the entire time I read this. Which is a sign of the author’s skill because Chani is frustrated (sexually, with herself, with Gabe) the entire novel too. Readalike for The Roughest Draft which I had the exact same reaction to.

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Book Club Questions

  1. Explain the dynamics between Chani and Gabe in both timelines.
  2. How do Chani and Gabe grow over the course of the novel?
  3. If Chani and Gabe had slept together that first weekend, do you think they would have ended up together in the end?
  4. How much time do you have to spend with someone to really know or love them?
  5. Chani and Gabe love one another, despite not having spent much time together over the past decade. What made them understand one another and fall in love despite limited personal interactions?

Interested? Buy Funny You Should Ask.
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