The romantic comedy “Siri, Who Am I?” by Sam Tschida was released on Jan. 12. The story follows Mia, a Los Angeles socialite who arrives at a hospital with amnesia, a head injury and a bloody yellow Prada dress. The amnesia is temporary; the doctors said she would regain memories — she calls them visions — as time progresses, but most of the clues she deduces about her life and identity come from external sources. Using Instagram sleuthing, she leads her Uber driver to a pink mansion, which appeared in her most recent Instagram post. She soon meets Max: a house-sitter, neuroscientist and love interest in the house. The mansion belongs to JP, owner of chocolate brand Jacques-o-late and Mia’s apparent boyfriend, although she has no recollection of him. As the story ensues, Mia compensates for her lack of memory by hunting for and acquiring details about her reality. The best asset of the book? It has ample footnotes, complete with Mia’s quips and observations.
Initially, “Siri, Who Am I?” felt more like a mystery or a thriller than a romance. Told in first-person limited from Mia’s perspectives, essential details to the plot are only revealed later on. She was pushed into an ice Cupid sculpture at an art gallery, causing her head trauma, but until the end of the book, she is unsure of who the perpetrator is. Max is only introduced several chapters in. When they meet, they don’t have the instant chemistry nor fiery animosity prevalent in the romance genre. Mia does acknowledge Max is “cute,” but there is not much beyond that, except for one minor kiss towards the end of the book. Romance appears as a subplot throughout the book; engaging, but not enough to qualify “Siri, Who Am I?” as romance. If anything, it is a contemporary with elements of mystery and romance.
“Romance appears as a subplot throughout the book; engaging, but not enough to qualify “Siri, Who Am I?” as romance. If anything, it is a contemporary with elements of mystery and romance.”
Writing style-wise, the novel is most reminiscent of 2020 release “I’ll Be The One” by Lyla Lee, embracing the SoCal life in its Hollywood setting. “Siri, Who Am I?” has expertly crafted pacing and reveals, something I would seldom see in a romance novel. Overall, the choice was experimental, hitting or missing depending on the target audience. I admire risk, although this one executed astoundingly averagely. Despite this, I admire Tschida’s dedication to her craft and creative ingenuity. The plot was engaging, and I enjoyed reading it.
During the eponymous scene in which Mia uses the face-recognition feature on the phone to unlock it and ask it what her name is, she does not utter, word-for-word, “Siri, who am I?” Nothing but a nitpick at that, I would have preferred the quote been “Siri, who am I?” verbatim. Nonetheless, the ephemeral quote encapsulates the essence of the story, something definitely to be included in the title.
Mia is a flawed three–dimensional character who does sometimes espouse astute remarks about art and culture, such as in response to an art exhibit where participants take selfies, “Was this the democratization of self-obsession?” and on feminism, “Why do… women have to look like sex kittens the minute they open their eyes? I guess that’s because girlishness is bound up with sexuality at a much younger age?” She is socially aware and struggles with money even though she had historically been in a serious relationship with billionaire JP and gaining an entrepreneurial position in her career. She sets her friends up in uncomfortable situations. Regardless, she is still a likeable, fun-spirited character.
“Why do… women have to look like sex kittens they open their eyes? I guess that’s because girlishness is bound up with sexuality at a much younger age?”
Her amnesia may leave her a tabula rasa, but she has a strong, consistent disposition. Max tells her, “You’re the same person you were before you woke up. You might not remember her, but you’re making the same decisions. It’s who you are.” Mia lives a life of luxury, embracing the California sun and spending large sums of money irresponsibly. As more is revealed about her life pre-ice sculpture accident, she imbued those same characteristics in her pre-head-trauma life.
Overall, I would recommend this book as something light and fluffy, or as a palate cleanser between more serious or emotionally draining books. Tschida knows how to write comedy.
Rating: 3.5 stars.