Kate Hollis is a successful professional working in sustainable development when she gets a four a.m. call from her long-time best friend, Laura.
“He’s here,” Laura succinctly informs Kate, who doesn’t even need to ask who. Laura means, of course, Jake Sharpe, international rock star, who’s made a career out of singing songs about Katie, and personal details about their first love high school relationship.
Jake vanished just before senior prom, leaving behind a distraught and heart-broken Katie and a confused group of friends, including his band, with whom he’d collaborated to write many songs.
Songs he vanished with, and songs he rode to stardom.
When he comes home thirteen years later for an MTV Christmas special, he returns to people who have never forgotten him or what he did. Because of his fame, they haven’t been able to.
This is the main storyline of Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin’s newest book, Dedication. I think of this book as a case of beginnings, middles and ends not meeting up terribly well. The book begins in the present, without adequate detail of the past, so the character’s emotions and actions make little sense. I started by thinking the main characters were a little immature and superficial. The second chapter is a flashback to Katie’s sixth grade year, the year she moved to Croton and met Jake Sharpe, and the rest of her friends. The chapters alternate between scenes in the present and a progression of years in the past.
Although it keeps the book sharply on point, in a way the character of Katie isn’t well-served with the book focusing exclusively on her trip home and down memory lane because the authors don’t balance it with a well-developed current life. Katie comes across as stuck in high school, completely, in all ways.
I don’t agree with the idea that one must have complete closure to move on; most of us have some degree of unresolved issues in our past, which might hold us back to some degree, but most of us have moved forward. So I’m unable to suspend my disbelief that even though she is troubled by how things went, she’s held on to her anger for over a dozen years to the exclusion of any current life. Her friends who are suing Jake for royalties and recognition of their contribution to the songs he rode to fame make more sense and are more believable.
Briefly mentioning a successful career—which, by the way, she appears willing to lose over this drive to find closure with Jake—doesn’t create an image of an established and healthy woman. I think that would have added a lot to the character of Katie, who otherwise appears to be completely losing it over the song Losing, which Jake wrote about their first sexual experience.
However, the characters are charming enough that I cared, and the story compelling enough that I kept reading. The writing eloquently captures the intense emotions of the tween and teen years, with fantastic flashbacks that aren’t overt and out of place bits of trivia, but are instead smoothly woven into the story, bolstering it. I wanted to like Katie and I did, and somehow I built up enough trust that she wouldn’t fall completely off the deep end.
I’m not a fan of the last portion of the book and the turn the story takes. It seems out of place with the rest of the story, like am amateurish tool to make a point.
So…beginning, I had a hard time getting going, middle I truly enjoyed, and end, I struggled with and am still not sure what to say.
People who enjoyed the authors’ other books, The Nanny Diaries and Citizen Girl, are mixed about whether they liked this one, as well. I haven’t got a basis of comparison.
However, if you enjoy rather light stories with some wit and some insightful writing that can be eloquent, do read this. I don’t wish for the time back, and can say I enjoyed the story.
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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