Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman is an alleged romance novel that follows the story of Chani Horowitz, a reporter, and Gabe Parker, a famous actor. Yes, this is a celeb/normal person romance – if you want to call it that. The story is told in dual timelines – then and now – with article clippings and blog post excerpts in between each chapter, which are supposed to help tell the story.
Chani is tasked with writing a profile on Gabe Parker, who is set to take the role of James Bond. Within the story’s universe, fans and critics don’t think Gabe is the right choice for the role because he’s American and because of some of his past roles. The hope is that Chani’s profile will help convince Gabe’s critics that he’s the right choice for Bond. While Chani spends time with Gabe to help write her piece, one afternoon turns into a weekend where something happens between them that alters both their lives.
Chani initially thinks she has one afternoon to get what she needs to write her profile on Gabe. After Chani arrives at Gabe’s rental house, a nervous wreck because Gabe is her celeb crush, she’s unable to compose herself to actually do her job. They go have lunch at a nearby restaurant where Chani ends up asking him “bad” questions, grabbing sound bites that everyone would already know from previous interviews. Gabe ends up inviting Chani to a movie premiere the following night, which sets the beginning of Chani’s own fame as she arrives to the premiere on his arm. She ends up getting one more day with Gabe when he invites her over to a party he’s throwing. Exhausted from the premiere and after party, Chani reluctantly accepts and goes to the party where she ended up passing out in Gabe’s bedroom mid-party. This is where anyone who’s read any type of romance novel would assume something happens between them.
The Now portions of the book are 10 years after that initial interview, where Chani is tasked once again to interview Gabe. Chani’s first profile of Gabe ended up going viral, launching Chani into her own fame and notoriety where everyone would ask whether or not she slept with Gabe. This newfound fame helped Chani put together a book of essays, which ended up becoming successful, but the fame of the Gabe profile and the endless question of whether or not something happened between them followed her everywhere. At this point, Gabe had his rise and fall from grace. He married his co-star before filming even began, though he successfully filmed two Bond films before his alcoholism got in the way and ruined his career. In those 10 years, he attended rehab a few times and got sober, and a divorce.
Common Themes + Opinions:
The running theme in Chani’s story is the inherent sexism she experiences after her profile on Gabe goes viral. People just assume she slept with Gabe to earn her clout and fame, despite her consistent denial that nothing happened between them. If the roles were reversed and a male reporter is tasked with interviewing an actress, the actress would still receive the vitriol – if it even goes public at all. A lot of the commentary Chani experiences happens online, where people easily hide behind their keyboards as they spew hate towards people they don’t even know. Unfortunately, Chani has to bear the brunt of all of this despite knowing the truth, no one was believing her.
I’ll be honest here and say that this premise is quite possibly one of the most unrealistic ones I’ve read. I feel like that’s silly to say given the genre but a lot of contemporary romance novels have a level of believability – where under the perfect storm of certain circumstances, the story could happen in real life. However, for Funny You Should Ask, it is not. Chani hangs onto her fantasy and celeb crush on Gabe, to the point where I feel she’s being delusional about how she feels and how she thinks Gabe feels about her. They spent a collective three days together, ~something happened~, and then they never spoke again. I find it incredibly hard to believe that Chani could fall in love with the real Gabe – not the one she’s built up in her head thanks to her crush – in three days. Conversely, I don’t find it believable at all that this big star could fall in love with her in that time frame while barely knowing anything about her at all. I’m not saying celebs can’t fall in love with “normal” people, they can, I just don’t think it would be possible under these circumstances.
Final Thoughts + Ratings:
Overall, I give Funny You Should Ask 2.5 stars. I found the story generally boring and unrealistic. Chani’s judgment and feelings were clouded by her celebrity crush on Gabe, which followed her through those 10 years. Aside from the lack of realism in the premise, there’s a lot of build up to what happened between them during that fateful weekend – and it falls incredibly flat once it is revealed. I struggled a bit with reading this book because I wasn’t exactly captivated by the premise or the events in the story, but finished reading it through because I’m not a quitter. As for the spice, it’s barely there so no rating on that.
Have you read Funny You Should Ask? Let me know what you think!