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Book review: <i>Dedication</i> by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

the cover of the book

McLaughlin and Kraus are back - and in my opinion, even better than before. Dedication is the quintessential girl's fantasy, with an unexpected happily ever after - where the girl makes the rules.

The story

Katie Hollis has her life all together - she has great friends, dates great guys, and has great sex. She has a great, worthwhile job as a sustainable environment consultant, flies a lot, and saves the environment. There's just one problem. She has an incredibly famous ex - who made his fortune of singing songs about their most intimate experiences together but never even bothered to break up with her properly. And Katie just knows she can never properly move on - until she's confronted him and made him regret his entire existence.

So when her old friend Laura calls to tell her that Jake Sharpe, her ex, has returned to their home town, she drops everything and races home to find the perfect moment to confront him.

But that is easier said than done - when Jake is being hounded by the paparazzi every minute of the day, and Katie just doesn't feel satisfied that she's called his existence in to question. And as she spends more and more time with Jake, she realises that actually, she might still be in love with him - if he can remedy all the hurt he caused her over the last fifteen years.

But is Jake what Katie really wants? Can their relationship survive adulthood? Can Katie get her life back, after the fifteen year spectre of Jake hanging over her head?

The style

Dedication has all the marks of McLaughlin and Kraus: the candid, upbeat writing style, the ethically conscious female protagonist, and a cast of diverse and robust supporting characters. However, I found it more dynamic and together, if you will, than either The Nanny Diaries or Citizen Girl. It's as though McLaughlin and Kraus have really got the whole co-writing thing down now; and it shows. There is a seamlessness to Dedication which I appreciate; there's nothing quite like seeing authors really get into their writing groove a couple of novels in. And that's what this feels like.

Dedication is divided into twenty five chapters, using two linear time lines that switch the setting between the present and Katie's teenage years chapter for chapter. Beginning on the 22nd of December 2005, the present time chapters go on to the 31st of December and describe Katie's reunion with Jake and attempt to reconcile herself with her past. The alternate chapters run from "sixth grade" to "Laura's wedding", and tell the back story of Katie and Jake's great love story, and Jake's great betrayal. This was an excellent way to set up the story, as McLaughlin and Kraus managed to resist any temptation to foreshadow (which would have made the story fairly predictable) and so the reader doesn't really know the whole story until the very end, but is tantalised by the intricacies and bits of information imparted throughout the story. One of the things I admired most about the story was the immediacy and freshness with which the whole thing was written - the chapters set in the past weren't written with any kind of nostalgia. The reader lives with Katie for her entire adolescence and teenage years - making the emotional investment in Katie's adult life just that little bit deeper. It was a dazzlingly simple and excellently utilised writing technique.

While this might sound weird, I was impressed by how much suspense McLaughlin and Kraus managed to stuff into a love story. Usually they're pretty run of the mill and predictable, but because of the time lines and the lack of foreshadowing, I was pretty keen to see where the story was going, and I kept hoping it would surprise me... there were so many opportunities for the book to lapse into your typical, stale, expected old girl-meets-old-flame disappointment. But you know what? It didn't. And so I remained pleasantly surprised and gratified the whole way through. Kudos, ladies!

In case you haven't noticed, I really enjoyed this book. It's well thought out, well written, engaging, and just... fun.

Who is this book for?

While I object to gender stereotyping, this is really more for us girls. And as we know, there is a glut of pretty average chick lit floating around the place. If you actually want a decent chick book, give this one a go.

In short

Title: Dedication
Author: Emma McLaughlin, Nicola Kraus
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 141654013
Year published: 2007
Pages: 287
Genre(s): Chick lit
Review Type: