Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Between You and Me

By Melissa Amster

I’ve had several fantasies about becoming a celebrity. It would involve a life of decadence, being adored by tons of fans and the opportunity to win awards, such as an Oscar, Grammy, Tony or Emmy (depending on the type of celebrity I had become). However, those fantasies were curbed—BIG TIME—upon reading “Between You and Me,” the latest novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.

Logan and Kelsey Wade grew up as cousins and best friends until an unfortunate incident ripped them apart, thanks to the ongoing family feud that resulted. Logan went to college and now has a job on Wall Street, while Kelsey has become an incredibly famous pop singer. Logan has been feeling like her life is hitting a dead end, but then she gets a call from their other cousin Delia, to visit Kelsey for a week. Before she knows it, she has become Kelsey’s assistant and is swept up into the whirlwind of endless concerts, interviews and moments in the spotlight. Soon, Kelsey’s life starts spinning out of control and Logan feels like she’s the only one who can help her get back on track. Will she sacrifice her own dreams to do so?

Emma and Nicola have become well known for writing about women with demanding jobs. I believe “The Nanny Diaries” inspired authors like Lauren Weisberger to also write about women with a career that drives them to the brink of insanity. They deal with inconsistent and confusing bosses who are usually portrayed as the villain. “Between You and Me” follows along that path, but this time it’s not just about Logan’s job. It’s also about Kelsey’s well-being in her role as a celebrity. I found the entire story rather captivating from Kelsey’s European tour to when she comes undone in the worst possible way. This is all seen through Logan’s eyes, but I felt bad for Kelsey nonetheless. I didn’t always agree with her behavior, but I couldn’t blame her for it either. People were making her decisions for her and not giving her even a moment to rest or think for herself. It had to have been daunting. She didn’t even get a normal childhood! Throughout the story, I felt like I was standing in the same room, witnessing Kelsey’s downfall. It felt that real. I especially liked that Emma and Nicola used real names for their characters this time, as opposed to what they've done in "The Nanny Diaries" and "Citizen Girl" with giving generic names to lead characters.

When I reviewed “Nanny Returns” last year, I had pointed out that it got too wordy and I felt like I was dropped into the middle of a situation without much background. I got this same feeling from “Between You and Me.” I guess I’m one of those readers who likes everything to be clear cut, with no confusion. Even the trailer for “Between You and Me” gives off this same feeling of confusion. I was watching it going “huh?” the whole time. While I’ve been told that the story is inspired by Britney Spears’ life, it seems to take after it a bit too much at times. I also would have preferred the story to be from Kelsey’s point of view, or even include it in alternating chapters, even though she’s more of an unreliable narrator at times. It would have been interesting to hear her side of some situations instead of just relying on Logan to talk about everything.

I thought “Between You and Me” was a very interesting “behind the scenes” look at a celebrity’s life and what causes them to unravel. We hear of so many celebrities who have turned to drugs, gotten arrested, or just went crazy. If you ever wondered why, reading this story will give a lot of insight. It definitely has movie potential and I’ve already cast some parts in my mind as I was reading it. The entire time, I pictured Kaley Cuoco (from “The Big Bang Theory”) as Kelsey and Michelle Pfeiffer as her mother (since her name is Michelle). I somewhat pictured Kat Dennings (“Two Broke Girls”) as Logan and Alec Baldwin as Andy (Kelsey’s father). Ashton Kutcher or Justin Deeley (“90210”) would make a good Aaron. (If any producers use my ideas and want to hire me as their casting director, I wouldn’t mind the extra income, but without the paparazzi attention.)

Thanks to Engelman and Co. for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Emma and Nicola will be visiting Chick Lit Central this week and some lucky US readers will have a chance to win “Between You and Me.” In the meantime, if you want to shop the Kelsey Wade way, visit Open Sky by June 26th.

More by Emma and Nicola:


The Book Chick said...

Great review, Melissa!

Shannon said...

Thanks for the great review. It sounds interesting! :)