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Dedication

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What if your ex was famous and adored by millions? What would you do if you had one chance to make him regret his entire existence? How much would you risk?

Kate Hollis's ex-boyfriend's face plasters newsstands and TV, the Internet, and the multiplex. Jake Sharpe is one of the biggest recording stars on the planet, and every song he's famous for is about Kate. For over a decade his soundtrack has chased her -- from the gym to the supermarket, from the dentist's office to the bars. Now thirty-year-old Kate gets the call that Jake has finally landed back in their Vermont hometown for an MTV special. The moment she has been waiting for has arrived.

On the eve of their prom, Jake Sharpe vanished, resurfacing when his song "Losing" -- about his and Kate's first sexual experience -- shot to the top of the Billboard charts. And the hits kept coming, each more personal than the one before.

Now Kate gets her chance to confront Jake and reclaim her past. But after eleven years of enduring protracted and far-from-private heartbreak, everyone in Kate's life has a stake in how this plays out. Kate must risk betraying the friends Jake abandoned, the bandmates whose songs he plundered, and her own parents, who fear this will dredge up a shared past more painful than any of them want to acknowledge. But after getting the call in the dead of night and jumping on a plane, can she turn back now?

Newsweek dubbed The Nanny Diaries "a national phenomenon" and the New Republic proclaimed, "Thank God for Citizen Girl." Now McLaughlin and Kraus have written a poignant, humorous tale about modern celebrity obsession and coming of age during the divorce boom. With flawless depictions of the 1980s, a charismatic heroine, and their signature biting wit, the authors offer up another lively and hilarious tale of a smart young woman looking for satisfaction in the chaos of contemporary culture.

1.      The authors alternate between Kate's present and her past. Why do you think they chose to tell the story this way?  Did you find it effective for showing how all the relationships evolved?

2.      Discuss Jake's parents. How does his mother's alcoholism affect his life? What about his father's abandonment? 

3.      Discuss the group of friends Kate and Jake are a part of and how their lives played out. What do you think compelled Kate and Jake to leave town, whereas all of their friends stayed? How has staying vs. leaving affected everyone?

4.      Kate's mom had an affair, Jake's dad had an affair, and Jake re-connects with Kate immediately after announcing his engagement to Eden. How does infidelity ricochet down the generations?

5.      Why do you think it takes so long for Kate's parents to talk to each other about what has happened? Do you think they blame each other or themselves for the condition of their marriage?

6.      Kate "got out of the car" (p. 214) and left Jake just as she always wanted to do. But when Jocelyn delivers the “what if I never left?” note (p. 218), Kate decides to go to him. Why do you think she does?  Have you ever given someone a second chance against your better judgment? 

7.      When Kate is swept into Jake's world, she discovers a lot of absurdity, from the team of assistants to Jake's nakedness before a performance.  The authors drew heavily on their own experiences working for celebrities.  How does our celebrity culture create the Jakes of this world? 

8.      Before you get to the New Year's interview, are you rooting for Kate and Jake to make it? Why or why not?

9.      What do you think of Kate's decision to leave Jake at the interview? Why do you think that was the final straw for her?

10.  Kate feels strongly that she needs to leave Jake regretting his entire existence. She has held onto this desire for twelve years. Why do you think she needs this kind of closure? How does she finally achieve it?

11.   Why does Jake not get in touch with Kate during all the years? He tells her that he thinks of her every day, and he Googles her (p. 115), but he never got in touch with her. What do you think prevented him from calling?

12.  Kate struggles with her own behavior when back in her parent’s home.  She knows she’s reverting to acting like a teenager. Why do you think that is?  How do you behave around your parents? 

13.  Talk about the theme of dedication.  Which relationship is the novel ultimately about? 
Photo by Melanie Dunea/CPi

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus are the New York Times bestselling authors of The Nanny Diaries, Citizen Girl, Nanny Returns, and the young adult novels, The Real Real and Over You. They are the cofounders of TheFinishedThought.com, a book coaching firm, and work together in New York City. For more information visit EmmaAndNicola.com.

Photo by Melanie Dunea/CPi

"McLaughlin and Kraus...[have a] carefully calibrated sense of compassion and delicious sense of the absurd." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Diabolically funny." -- The New York Times

"McLaughlin and Kraus have created an amazingly distinct voice...cynical and wry, but also compassionate." -- Newsday

"McLaughlin and Kraus deftly satirize post-feminist, postmodern, twenty-first-century America." -- Booklist

"This third effort from McLaughlin and Kraus is spot on...a moving story. A bittersweet coming-of-age tale with flashes of wit and an especially sympathetic heroine."

-- Kirkus

"Wholly satisfying."

-- Booklist

"McLaughlin and Kraus get the nagging need for closure comically right."

-- Publishers Weekly