Losing Kate is an intriguing novel that tells the story of how one single, chance event can change the future and destroy the lives of a number of people. The novel opens with Francesca, a single woman age thirty who is a social worker and who lives alone. Her world is a very safe one, until Jack, a boy she knew in her teens moves into the house next door along with his partner and child. The painful history that Francesca shares with Jack soon resurfaces and it becomes very obvious that neither can hide from their past, or their attraction to one another, forever.
Losing Kate is told through two parallel narratives, the dominant one being the present day. Selected chapters tell stories of what happened in the past and how the lives and Jack were turned around when, in their final year of high school, a charismatic young woman named Kate transferred to their school. Kate is an instant hit with the other kids, but it is Francesca that she chooses for a best friend and Jack for a boyfriend. Jack and Kate have been best friends since infancy and it is only over the course of the year, and their inability too keep up with the often demanding Kate that they realise their feelings for one another may be deeper than friendship. There are a few lies and manipulations all around as the kids try to each work out who they are and who they want to be, which climaxes in a single, tragic event when a pregnant Kate disappears and drowns and Jack finds himself shouldered with the blame.
Fast forward twelve years and Francesca and Jack have barely spoken in all that time. Both have experienced (or are in the midst of experiencing,) unhappy relationships and unfulfilled dreams. Jack's partner knows little about his past, but the truth about his and Francesca's relationship, along with what really happened to Kate that night soon surfaces in some emotionally charged scenes.
Quite underplayed is the brilliant way that the way that the author portrays Kate, her struggles with bipolar disorder and her ability to manipulate the people around her. Equally brilliant and underplayed is the role of Francesca's older brother Ben. I think this is where Kaden's talent lies and therefore, I feel that the author could have done more with Francesca and Jack--their characters did not come to life for me as easily as Kate and Ben did. Kate and Ben felt very real to me. While Francesca and Jack were easy for me to relate to and understand they both came across as a little boring at times--I would have liked to have seen each having more individual quirks or qualities, something that made them special and unique, something more than being good people trapped in difficult circumstances.
Losing Kate is an enjoyable read, bound to appeal to fans of romantic suspense.