One-Minute Book Reviews

November 7, 2007

The Adults Need the Diaper Change in ‘Dedication,’ the New Novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

OHMYGODYOUGOTTASKIPTHISBOOK!!! Because it has way too many lines like that one and, as its characters might say, It. Is. So. Retarded.

Dedication: A Novel. By Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. Simon & Schuster/Atria. 279 pp., $24.

By Janice Harayda

Few young writers have squandered their literary capital faster than Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the authors of The Nanny Diaries.Their first novel deftly satirized the world of financially overprivileged New Yorkers and their emotionally underprivileged children. But their subsequent Citizen Girl sounded dreadful, and Dedication is pure schlock, though “pure” may be the wrong word for a book that has many lines like, “Crapcrapcrapcrap.”

Kate Hollis has waited for 13 years to take revenge against “multiplatinum recording megastar Jake Sharpe,” a high school classmate who dumped her. She wants nothing less than to “make him regret his entire existence.” And she finds her moment when Jake returns to their hometown in Vermont to announce his engagement to “international recording superstar” Eden Millay.

But Dedication is no print equivalent of the appealingly frothy My Best Friend’s Wedding. Alternating between the past and present, Kate gives an exhaustive history of her relationship with Jake from middle school to more than a decade after high school, as though it were the run-up to the Battle of Agincourt in Henry V. The chapters have titles like “Seventh Grade,” “Eighth Grade,” and “Ninth Grade,” and give the characters many opportunities to say things like, “Ooh, gross,” and, “You’re so retarded.”

Throughout all of it, Kate and Jake mature so little little that when their confrontation finally occurs, it’s like watching a junior-high food fight. In a sense McLaughlin and Kraus have come full circle: Their plot has changed, but they’re still writing about characters who need nannies.

Best line: None on par with the best in the The Nanny Diaries.

Recommendation? Be prepared for some of the members to stop speaking to you if you recommend this one to a book club.

Consider reading instead: The Nanny Diaries

Worst line: Any of the many on the order of, “Movemovemove, I’ve gotta pee!” and “OHMYGODWHERE’DYOUGETTHATBODY?” For one that’s not a run-on sentence, there’s, “Her face mommabirds.”

Published: June 2007

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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