Friday, June 29, 2007

Dedication by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster
Just released: June, 2007
278 pages

I haven't read either The Nanny Diaries or Citizen Girl by the same writing duo and they've both gotten mixed reviews from friends. So, I was actually a little leery going into the reading of Dedication. I'd heard a lot of "Katie is so irritating" and "I just wanted to wring Jake's neck". From the standpoint of a person who has written fiction, I know that it's good for the reader to feel emotionally involved, but hating the characters can end up being entirely negative.

Regardless, I wanted to read the book and since I received it as an Advanced Review Copy, felt obligated to at least try, so that I could share my opinion with the publisher. When I picked it up, the book surprised me. It flowed well, apart from the occasional stretch of dialogue during which I couldn't figure out who was speaking. I was honestly sucked right in and enjoyed the reading.

Dedication is the story of Kate Hollis. Now thirty, still single and with a successful career, she has never had closure to her high school romance with Jake Sharpe. Jake has become a well-known recording star, with a string of hits that are mostly about Kate. When her best friend, Laura, calls to let Kate know that Jake has finally returned to their hometown to film a video, Kate is determined to see him, to discuss why he stood her up on prom night and convince him to share royalties from a song he and his high school friends co-wrote, now practically a classic entirely credited to Jake.

Jake is anxious to see Kate, but he has his own reasons. Convinced he still loves her, he wants to pick up their relationship where it left off, with his profession of love and a whole lot of casual sex. He claims to have never stopped thinking about her, even though he is involved in a much-publicized relationship and possibly on the verge of marriage.

Kate has been pining after Jake for so long that she has difficulty seeing the big picture. Jake is a narcissist. Even during the time they dated, he often stood her up frequently and he hasn't been in contact since before the prom. So, the big question is: Will Kate figure out what kind of person Jake really is and move on with her life?

There's also plenty of filler about Jake and Kate's dysfunctional families - the kind of thing I like to call "Dysfunctional Family Follies," in which a parent occasionally argues with the protagonist or comes home running-into-walls drunk. Most of Jake's family mess comes out in flashback scenes, while Kate is still arguing with her parents about Jake in the present-day setting and their story emerges more gradually.

A good portion of the basis for this story seemed ridiculous and Kate and Laura's high school experiences were so far removed from my own that I couldn't relate in any way, but I still found the book entertaining. It's not mentally taxing or dreary, even though Kate is definitely the kind of character you want to shake and Jake could have used a good, swift kick. The writing is not remarkable or special in any way, but the need to know what was going to happen kept the pages turning. I like a good, light relationship story and I think that's exactly what Dedication is - two people with a past meet and must resolve their unfinished relationship. I liked it. I'm much more interested in The Nanny Diaries, now.

4/5 for entertainment value - a quick read, great for those who like chick lit, not for those who are unsatisfied by a book that is about a relationship and little else.

I can't figure out why this is my favorite photo of the fountain in the Detroit airport, but I always pause on this one:

Maybe it's the way the two men in the background appear to have noticed the camera at the same time, while looking over at the fountain. Or, the contrast in their looks and outfits: two unique individuals spotting something at the exact same moment. The way the water is in focus but the people in the background seem to have become the subject matter fascinates me. Click on the photo to enbiggen, hugify, enlarge, etc.

If it doesn't storm, I'll begin working on that "100 Things About Me" post and/or a post on what little I've figured out about nature photography. I haven't forgotten either! I also hope to squeeze in some blog-hopping time. Wish us a storm-free evening.

Off to move the laundry! Fun times!!


  1. I really enjoyed The Nanny Diaries but I think I'll be skipping this one. I'm not that much into Chick Lit.

    That is a cool pic!

  2. Carrie,

    I've got a copy of The Nanny Diaries around here, somewhere, and now I really do want to read it (and see the movie - the previews looked cute), but I like Chick Lit. It's my brain break lit of choice. :)

    And, thank you.

  3. I felt terrible passing on this one, but I just haven't been in the mood to read it for S&S. I can only take chicklit in small doses and this isn't one of those times. It sounds good though so maybe when I am in the mood, I'll give it a try.

  4. Wendy,

    They only ask you to read one out of three, right? Most everyone seems to find the protagonist really annoying but I thought she had an inkling of hope so I enjoyed the book. It's definitely not for everyone!

  5. I really like that photo as well! Definitely the guys in the background that make the picture. First thing I noticed. Nice little slice of life picture...especially with one in the dark suit and one in the lighter colors. Neat!

    I'm looking forward to your 100 things about me post! I could never be creative enough to come up with something like that.

    Great review by the way. I found myself interested in the book...and it's chick lit! offense there :)

  6. Hi Chris,

    Aren't they interesting? I've got quite a few photos of that fountain and the people in the background are much more interesting than the water - not at all what I expected because the fountain is totally cool. But those guys are my favorites.

    I might not be creative enough to come up with 100 things, either. We'll see. LOL

    Chick Lit has a bad name that I don't think it totally deserves. However, I have to say that I still think British Chick Lit is the best - there's usually just so much more story to the Brit version. When it arrived in the U.S., publishers wanted "young, single, city gal" protagonists only. I think that was short-sighted and gave people a negative impression of lighter women's fiction that they haven't entirely escaped. Plus, heck, it's not for everyone! :)

  7. wow! There are sub-genres to chick-lit! I never knew ;)

  8. :) Yep. And, I tend to dislike Irish Chick Lit. Here's the question: What is Canadian Chick Lit like? Is there such a thing? When are we going to branch out a bit and get some European, Asian, South American, and Australian Chick Lit - or is the idea of a chick on her own self-limiting?

    When is Bookfool going to shut up?

  9. I tend to enjoy South Eastern Hungarian Chick-Lit myself....

  10. About 4 years ago, I was browsing shelves in the library and I found Bridget Jones's Diary. It was the first "Chick Lit" book I've ever read (besides some seriously horrible Danielle Steele novels of my grandma's!) I LOVED it! She was so funny. And it turned me into a Chick Lit reader with a vengence. I think I spent the next 2 years on really ONLY Chick Lit.

    I've since toned that down a lot. I mean, I do love a good Chick Lit...and there are some good ones out there. I did like The Nanny Diaries. Not so much Citizen Girl. (I actually like Characters with NAMES!) But Brit Chick Lit is my choice of the best. Fiona Walker, Chris Manby, Victoria Routledge, Jane Green, Melissa Nather, Alexandra Potter....I could go on and on (which I really didn't mean to here in this comment...sorry!! )

    Great review...I may have to pick this one up.

  11. Chris,

    You're a nut. LOL


    Bridget Jones was my introduction to British Chick Lit, too!! And, yep, there are some amazing authors across the pond. I like Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews, also, but you hit on several of my favorites. Melissa Nathan is great and Chris Manby has only let me down once (but I loved the characters). I thought Jane Green kind of went downhill, but her earlier books were fantastic. There's another Victoria I like, but I can't remember her last name. She was on one of my listservs and I loved her books. Darn.

    Yep, a good chick lit is a good book, period. They're excellent for when you just need an upper. :)

  12. I, too, enjoyed The Nanny Diaries, but like Dedication (which I think I'll skip!), there were two characters (the parents of the young child) that I absolutely hated. Reading the details centered around them had me fuming. You'll see what I mean when you read it. I'm a bit vague here so I don't spoil the book for you.

    Cool picture! I love the way the water is frozen in mid-squirt! :)

  13. I like reading chick lit at the gym because it takes my mind off the tedium of the exercise without distracting me from the task at hand. I have a copy of 'The Nanny Diaries', so that might be my next gym book.

    In your photo I like how one of the streams of water is sort of framing the more formal guy's head. Nice.

  14. Les,

    The two characters weren't bad enough to hate, IMHO, but you did want to shake one. And, the other was the kind of person who is so slick he seemed likable one minute and like a total jerk the next. I could see how the female, Kate, could easily have felt like, "He'll do what he says this time." He was that kind of guy. I thought the ending was okay. I can't see myself reading it a second time, but it was a pleasant diversion. :)

    Thanks. It was harder than I expected to get the water where I wanted it, in that photo!


    I think Chick Lit is probably the perfect gym literature. Now, if I could just get myself to the gym.

    And, thank you. "The formal guy" - I like that description. He has a terrific-looking suit, doesn't he?

  15. Hey you! There are 26 more little blue poppets up on ebay for $10 a piece!

  16. Oh, total coolness, Chris. My husband is going to regret that bit of information-sharing. ;)

  17. Very fun to read everyone's thoughts on chick lit. I got into it a bit when I first discovered it, but as time passes I found it less and less 'satisfying'. Having said that there are some authors I always get a kick out of - Marian Keyes, Jane Green (though not so much her last few), Cathy Kelly, Sophie Kinsella, Emily Barr....

    I enjoyed the Nanny Diaries - it was an interesting portrait of the lifestyle it portrays. Very shallow, but interesting.

  18. Tara,

    It is interesting, isn't it? People tend to feel strongly, one way or the other, about Chick Lit. I enjoy it as a break between heavier reads, but I'm still happiest with British Chick Lit. Jill Mansell is one of my favorite authors.

    Jane Green used to be fabulous and, yeah, those last three books . . . ugh. They were so lacking in substance and what happened to the incredible characterization of her early books? I can still visualize the characters from Bookends . . . and Jemima J. She was such a terrific character.

    I've really got to find my copy of The Nanny Diaries. It's around here, somewhere.


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