Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

By Ekta R. Garg

July 10, 2013

Rated: Borrow it

A young woman gets an opportunity to reunite with her estranged cousin, who happens to be the world’s biggest pop star, and also join her cousin’s entourage as personal assistant.  Despite the opaque history the woman shares with her aunt and uncle, she finds the world of stardom dazzling—until its realities and every-day challenges start to hit a little too close to home.  Authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus share this plot with readers in the adrenaline-infused Between You and Me.

On her twenty-seventh birthday Logan Wade knows one thing: she needs a dramatic change in her life.  Her New York City job in an office with a plethora of spreadsheets and teleconferences doesn’t exactly offer her a rush of professional satisfaction, and her love life has diminished to flirty texts and emails.  So when she receives a cryptic message from the personal assistant of her famous cousin, pop star Kelsey Wade, to visit Kelsey in sunny California, Logan jumps at the chance.  Before Kelsey and her mother, Michelle, disappeared from Logan’s life under murky circumstances, no one could keep Logan and Kelsey apart.  Cousins, best friends, and sister soul mates, a part of Logan remained at that moment fourteen years earlier when she realized Kelsey and Michelle had left for good.  Now Logan gets an opportunity to jumpstart their closeness.

When she gets to California, though, Kelsey has done the jumpstarting for her.  Kelsey fires her personal assistant and begs Logan to take the job.  Logan agrees and encounters a steep learning curve of the world of celebrity scandal and the grueling schedule required to keep Kelsey on top.  Logan doesn’t shy away from the challenge, using all of her New York instincts and aggressiveness to get the job done, but even her talents can only keep Kelsey going for so long.  Often at odds with Kelsey’s parents, who also double as career managers, Logan starts to uncover the truth behind Kelsey and Michelle’s abrupt departure from her life.  She also uncovers just how much sparkle celebrities require to keep the attention away from their dulling spirits, and ultimately Logan must decide how far her loyalty goes to keep that sparkle shining.

Authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus offer readers an insightful look at pop stars and their inner circle.  In fact, Kelsey’s career trajectory will remind many of a certain real-life pop star’s path to success and failure (although Kelsey doesn’t shave her head to exhibit her desperate need for attention.)  Logan does her best to balance between her role as personal assistant and Kelsey’s one-time best friend, and McLaughlin and Kraus handle the relationship between Logan and Kelsey with ease.  As the first-person narrator of the story, Logan’s well-defined voice smacks of her New York life and readers will feel the frenetic pace of that city on every single page.

Some lines of dialogue feel slightly incomplete, however, as if readers have turned away from the conversation for just a moment and missed the first few words.  Also, the story starts to drag slightly when Kelsey’s love life begins to show promise.  And the end may feel slightly forced, as though the authors wanted to give Logan a pardon by another character.  In fact at one point readers may start to wonder just where the story is supposed to go, but as the plot progresses it’s clear that in some ways readers should just view Kelsey’s career as they do the real-life train wrecks many celebrities make of their lives.

A small factual error came to my attention: Kelsey apparently gets her start in show business by appearing on the show “Kids Incorporated,” a popular tween variety show in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  The only problem: Kelsey supposedly gets onto the show when she’s 11, in the year 1999—five years after the show went off the air in real life.  The authors could certainly have picked any one of a handful of other shows or created their own (a la “Hannah Montana”) to serve this purpose in the plot.  The issue doesn’t really come up often, however, and readers may not even remember by the end of the book how Kelsey got her start.  But the authors could have taken better care with this small fact.

For the most part, however, Between You and Me, will feed that need for those interested in celebrity gossip and those who wonder just how celebrities manage to make some of those incredibly stupid decisions.  I recommend it as a summer beach read, not necessarily one to challenge the synapses, but certainly interesting in parts nonetheless.

***

What the ratings mean:

Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection.  It’s definitely worth it!

Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.

Bypass it–Free time is precious.  Don’t spend it on this book!

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