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Emily Henry’s ‘Funny Story’ is a shot to the heart and a self-help book wrapped in one

In Emily Henry’s newest book, released on April 23, 2024, the “buttoned-up” Daphne and the “scruffy” Miles find themselves in what might be the most uncomfortable roommate situation the world has ever known. Daphne’s fiance, Peter, runs off with his best friend, Petra, the night of his bachelor party, leaving Daphne with a week to move out of the house. Leaving her with nothing, Daphne is forced to move out of the very house he insisted on buying for them in a state far from everything and everyone she has ever known. Despite barely knowing him, Daphne makes the snap decision to room with Miles. The kicker is Petra was Miles’ girlfriend right up until she confessed her love for her childhood best friend.

Miles, a “Bridget Jones’s Diary”-loving bartender, has Daphne in a twist from the start, and the pair barely know how to converse about the weather. Their relationship takes a sharp turn when Peter and Petra send the pair wedding invitations; to the new couple’s shock, the pair RSVP to the wedding. To save face, Daphne tells Peter that she and Miles are dating. 

Daphne and Miles tip-toe around each other for nearly the entirety of the book. This slow-burn feels less like a build-up of romance and more like a random series of flashfires. Despite getting down and dirty pretty early on in their fake relationship, they cut it off almost immediately when Miles’ sister drops in out of the blue. The first-person perspective aspect of the story typically proves to be a detriment as it’s hard to see the connection between the characters building, and “Funny Story” is no exception. The moments of emotional connection and chemistry seem to pop up until Miles suddenly confesses he’s in love. Throughout the story, unseen moments of Daphne and Miles’ love story build in the background, making their romance almost invisible to the reader.

Despite this, Henry still manages to inflict gut-wrenching pain upon readers. It’s easy to relate to Miles and Daphne personally, even if their relationship sometimes feels lacking. Daphne having to watch Peter drive away with Petra was almost scarring. Although Miles makes light of the situation, being terminally optimistic and skillfully “fine,” the tension makes it difficult not to see oneself doing exactly the same. This book excels at defining and showcasing the complications of negative emotions and the uncertainty of never knowing someone else’s.

Emily Henry’s work has always been about more than a simple, cookie-cutter storyline, and this book exemplifies that. “Funny Story” doesn’t end with the usual epilogue where the main characters are married, having kids and everything works out swimmingly; it is more open-ended than that, and Henry’s characters are more complicated than that. The relationship between Miles and Daphne falls short because they are complex characters of their own, and Henry’s ability to humanize her characters on an individual level takes the main stage.

This book feels far more like a lesson on friendship than romantic love. In the wake of Peter and Petra’s betrayal, Miles and Daphne learn to lean on each other, and Daphne learns how to build a circle of friends in a way Peter never fostered. What was truly moving about this book was seeing how Miles might have been Daphne’s perfect match because he helped her become a better person rather than the perfect person.

Verdict: While “Funny Story” falls short in the romance department, Emily Henry makes up for it by skillfully pulling at the heartstrings of her readers.

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