Review: The Ex Talk

Published January 26th 2021, 336 pages

Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon

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. 

This is a very cute romance story that involves two characters with both cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. They not only work at the same company, but end up working together on the same project/program. It is a classic enemy to lovers story that is very sweet with some entertaining tidbits during their broadcasts.

Shay Goldstein, is a Jewish, white, 29-year-old radio producer. She has worked at Seattle Public Radio for the past ten years and has most recently been a producer for her program, which was her concept. She has always dreamed of being in public radio as it was her late father’s interest and Shay wants to feel connected to her father, especially after his passing. In her personal life, she begins to feel the effects of loneliness after her mother and her boyfriend decide to get married and her best friend is already with her longtime boyfriend. Her best friend also might move away for a job opportunity, which leaves Shay feeling even more alone.

Shay’s job at the station is suddenly in danger as the funding isn’t there to support every program like it used to due to lower ratings for some of the content. During a pitch meeting, Shay randomly suggests, The Ex Talk, where a couple that recently broke up will host and discuss relationship issues. Her boss jumps at the idea, however, there are not a lot of actual ex-couples to host. Therefore, Shay ends up as one half of the hosting duo and her nemesis Dominic Yun is named as her partner. Dominic is a 24 year old, Korean American, recent graduate with his Master’s in journalism from Northwestern, which he brings up every chance he gets. At first, Shay does not want to participate as she does not want to be with Dominic. He, in turn, does not want to do it because of he believes this program does not align with his journalism/reporting path. Eventually, Shay realizes this program is her only choice and she needs to convince Dominic to agree. This begins their relationship where they begin to interact more and very slowly start to get to know the other. Finally, the Ex Talk is born and the two of them host a hot new radio program.

There are chapters featuring transcripts from some of Shay and Dom’s broadcasts. These were entertaining, but I felt that they were random as the content in them is not discussed before or after. The two characters would congratulate each other on a job well done or they would make passing comments, but aside from the broadcast highlighting a theme that the two of them discussed, it felt disconnected. For me, I would have preferred there to be more integration about the two characters discussing some of the specifics about the broadcast instead of moving the story along to the next portion.

I liked the angle of favoritism in the workplace occurring as it is something that is very relatable and exists at every company; it is just handled differently at each. It was interesting to see how each character handles it as Dom is aware that he is the boss’s favorite, but also must walk a fine line to not challenge it or he could lose his job. Shay’s position is the other side where she has more experience at the station, but she is not acknowledged. She challenges her boss when she can, but she stays because of the obligation she’s given herself to stay due to her father. It’s well-done for this part of the story even though it actually is not the main theme. It just happened to be very relatable as I have been both a favorite and a non-favorite  (still liked though) at different positions over the years, so it was intriguing to read how each character would deal with it in the workplace.

Dom and Shay are a cute couple as the two of them get to know each other. They have good banter and great chemistry.  Dom is very sweet and shy compared to the more outgoing Shay. She has some moments where it was hard to believe that she was the older, more mature one, of the pair, as some of her thoughts seemed to follow the pattern of someone typically younger. There are a lot of obstacles that this couple needs to overcome in order to be together. I felt that the story followed through on the characters working through some of their issues, but others were glossed over for the sake of the story.

Overall, there is a great introduction to the topic of grief and how each person deals with differently with the death (taking place before the story) of Shay’s father. There is also the concept of lying and what actually constitutes a lie and where it is appropriate as Shay and Dom were not exes, but they were portraying themselves as a former couple to the public, including their families. Additionally, there are great themes of finding your place and dream job when you think you are on a certain path and end up on another. Shay started out as a producer and Dom started as a reporter and they were thrust into a hosting position. They had to find if their old positions, their newer hosting one, or even a new one they have yet to discover are the right career paths for them.  It was a great story and I would gladly pick up more novels by this author!

14 thoughts on “Review: The Ex Talk

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