The Ex Talk
by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Published January 26, 2021 by Berkley
rated 3/5 stars
Summary from Goodreads:
Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.
When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.
As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.
DOMINIC YUN deserved better than this! The Ex Talk has been all over the place since its release, and was definitely one of those hyped books that I wanted to get my hands on it once I learned it took place in the world of radio and podcasting. It’s set in Seattle too, so I thought of my consistent long nights laying in bed watching episodes of Frasier on my iPad..but anyway! This book had a lot of potential. The greatest was the premise, which I think is also a huge aspect of the books downfall. It’s cool to see an author take a certain trope that is really loved, and flip it on its head; this book has all the makings of fake dating but its the fake break up that is the driver of the story. With hopes of saving their radio station, Shay and Dominic pretend to be fake exes for a radio show. Now here is another problem that I have: Dom is fresh out of grad school which his constant reminder off his education is something that continuously ticks Shay off, yet he jumps on board to LIE TO LISTENERS a little too easily for my taste. Now, I’ve never been a journalism major, never worked in the world of radio but even as a history major, I know about codes of ethics and those seemed to just go out of the window for the sake of this romance novel. And I dont even think that is a fault of his really! Shay constantly throws it out there that she is older than him, that she’s been at the station for a bazillion years (or however!) so this fresh out of college guy, just wants a job. This also makes me think of abuse of power! While in the military there was so much rightful noise made about superiors abusing their power with new to the military troops; kids fresh out of high school who just joined, wanted to pass training and continue on with their careers-so I don’t play stuff like that. And while it wasn’t intentional in this book and Shay obviously didn’t even realize she was doing it, I still cringed! I get that. With fake dating, we have to see and understand the reason why there needs to be a fake relationship and in their case, a fake break up= to save the station, but bruh! I think we could have did something different than lying for listens. The spin on the fake relationship trope is honestly what gave this book three stars for me.
I didn’t like Shay. Granted, I did read this on audio and I think the audio narrator nailed Shay as a character but she did so, so well that I was so depressed by her! Shay lost her father like ten years ago. I have never lost a parent so I won’t sit here act like I have any understanding of what that grief is like but, HOMEGIRL NEEDS TO SEEK THERAPY! I’m sorry! From the moment I got into this book, my annoyed-by-heroine senses were flaming and as much as I held out for hope, things just didn’t change. Look, I know there is plenty of room at the table for all kinds of heroines but if we are going to write a 29 year old woman who is still trying to navigate the world while also grieving the loss of her father after ten years, PLEASE, have her seeing a therapist once a week (or more, if needed!). Dominic, we learn gets anxiety in front of crowds, so the big dark moment towards the end arrives, he freezes, and Shay flips out on him! Like, girl, you know he suffers this and you basically throw it in his face. I can’t!
The back of this book says it is a romantic comedy, and I don’t remember laughing at all. I know it may seem like I hated this book and trust me, I didn’t. I think it did some really interesting things in regards to tropes, it had a hero who I would’ve liked to see end up with someone else, or at least Shay five years from now after she’s sought therapy and became more bearable. This was one of my highly anticipated releases for this year and while I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for more from this author, I just hope what comes next is better!