three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
10-May-June-2004
user_rating: 
0

A-AskMeAnythingTwenty-six year old Rosalie Preston, a writer for teen magazine Girl Talk, spends her days answering questions sent to her "Ask Annie" column by the young, confused, and lovelorn. The truth is, she's just as mystified by life and love as her readers. An aspiring actress, Rosalie and five college friends have their own theater company, but lately the group is being pulled apart by conflicting job opportunities. Rosalie feels very much alone. To compensate, she strikes up an unlikely affair with her friend's rich (and married) father and the real 'fun' begins.
W.W. Norton. 256 pages. $23.95.

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars
"Purely as plot, Ask Me Anything combines the Manhattan camaraderie of Friends, the never-perfect romances of Sex and the City, the fey playfulness of Seinfeld, and the confrontation of 'I-want-it-now!' youth with professional judgment that juices American Idol. ... [Delbanco] offers sly, sardonic, Northeastern, Ivy League urban voice the way Arnold offers muscles: one layer atop another." Carlin Romano

Boston Globe 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The reason to read this book is quite simply the writing. Delbanco includes the telling detail and draws the sharp perception. ... Delbanco's not showoff clever, she's just funny smart, like your best friends." Mary Ambrose

Chicago Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Francesca Delbanco's modus operandi in her delightful first novel is simple and effective: Turn on the charm, but keep the serious business in sight. ... But the book stands out by virtue of its narrator's persuasively human, persuasively 26-year-old voice." Laura Demanski

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[An] absurdly entertaining comic novel. ... Those rhetorically hanging questions that pulsate with big-theme significance owe a little something to Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw: 'What if the patterns and rules governing love were just as incomprehensible and random to me as they were to my readers?'" Mark Rozzo

Critical Summary

This is bona fide 'chick-lit', but one of the more insightful entries in the genre. More than one critic compared it to Friends, Sex and the City, and Seinfeld. In other words, it's written for self-absorbed 20-somethings. The plot isn't particularly original or surprising, but critics agree that it's a fun ride through the narrator's halting transition into adulthood. First-time author Delbanco, a veteran advice columnist for Seventeen, includes snippets of her protagonist's column throughout. These can be entertaining or tiresome, depending on whom you ask. But on the whole, Rosalie is "not only less antic but less artificial" than her British counterpart, Bridget Jones (Chicago Tribune). She's completely lovable.