Review: Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Between You and Me

Author: Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Genre/Pages: Fiction/272

Publisher: Atria Books

Publish Date: June 12, 2012

Rating: 2 bookmarks (borrow it)

Source: courtesy of Engelman & Co.

Natalie’s 1-Sentence Synopsis: From the authors of The Nanny Diaries, comes a new novel that pulls back the stage curtains and peels back the perfect façade of life as a pop-star princess.

Celebrity is the advantage of being known to people who we don’t know, and who don’t know us.-Nicholas Chamfort, author

Cousins Logan and Kelsey Wade grew up small town girls from Oklahoma but are pulled apart after a family drama when they are teenagers.  Kelsey follows the bright lights to Los Angeles, in search of fame and Logan heads to NYU and life in the big city.

Now in their late 20s, the girls are reunited, and Logan is prevailed upon to take over as Kelsey’s assistant.  Things quickly spiral out of control as Kelsey makes a series ill-fated decisions that threaten to tarnish her pop-star reputation and call her stability into question.

As a fan of The Nanny Diaries, I was eager to give Between You and Me a read.  Touted as a story inspired by the trials and tribulations of Britney Spears, it promised a behind-the-scenes glimpse at life as a celebrity.  While not an actual Roman á clef, the story does draw heavily on Spears’s early celebrity, rise to fame, and painful fall.

McLaughlin and Kraus captured the essence of celebrity and fame with great success through characterization.  They depicted Kelsey’s vulnerability and let it shine through in a few pivotal scenes.  Her loneliness and pain were palpable, and I was able to see how difficult it must be to live a life surrounded by fawning sycophants and parasites.  The inability to trust even your closest friends and family members must create such tension and internal conflict!

I wanted this book to be a great beach read, but for me it fell short in a few areas.  I had difficulty getting into and staying with the story.  It didn’t feel fractured or disjointed, but it didn’t pull me in or hold my attention for more than a few chapters at a stretch. Some scenes and situations were awkward and others were downright implausible.

There were some flat characters who could have been mined further, and the nagging feeling that I was watching a train wreck unfold before my eyes left me feeling a bit unsettled.  Also, skinny dipping at your estranged celebrity cousin’s palatial estate when you think no one is home? Never a good idea.

Authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

By the time Britney Spears showed up on the scene, I was well out of my teen years and she was barely a blip on my music radar (my students try valiantly to keep me hip). For those who grew up with Spears, Between You and Me might be a great pick.  They will be able to recognize all the nuances and references.  Unfortunately for me, this one was more miss than ‘hit’.

Other Reviews

Paula from The Phantom Paragrapher

Tammydotts from Small Pond

Jonita at The Book Chick

Heather at Pure Textuality


  1. I don’t know – I’m totally not a fan of B.S. (so to speak), so I probably wouldn’t appreciate this book much!

  2. Oh what a shame. I was quite intrigued by this one. I would love to get the feel of Britney’s real life behind the scenes.

  3. I’m about halfway through this one now and definitely agree re: not reading for more than a few chapters at a stretch, but I am enjoying it so far. My sister was (and is) a huge Britney fan, so I can detect the allusions to Kelsey/Britney’s small-town roots and dead-behind-the-eyes demeanor. The authors have done a good job of describing the grueling schedules and painful exhaustion of a pop star — something we don’t always consider when we’re on the outside looking in at all the glitz.

  4. I suspect, due to my advanced age, it would be a miss for me as well. : )

  5. I didn’t realize this was inspired by Brittany Spears – it’s probably not for me.

  6. While I’m not a fan of Britney Spears, this does sound like an interesting story. Great review!

  7. Lol, I missed the whole Britney boat myself but it was interesting to see just how NOT glamorous it is to travel on a tour.

  8. I’m sure there are plenty of readers out there who will really enjoy this one…it just missed the mark for me. 🙂

  9. I’m in total agreement on your assessment of the behind-the-scenes thing. And to think, I thought tours were all green m&ms and catered parties!

  10. Yes, you and I should probably just head into the retirement village any day now. I’ll race you on my motorized scooter.

  11. This one will definitely be a hit with many readers and it does offer an interesting story…it just didn’t float my boat. 🙂

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