The Smart One and the Pretty One – Claire LaZebnik

Title: The Smart One and the Pretty One
Author: Claire LeZebnik
ISBN: 0446582069
Pages: 304
Release Date: September 10, 2008
Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: **** (out of 5)

From the back cover:

Smart, successful Ava Nickerson is closing in on thirty and has barely had a date since law school. When a family crisis brings her prodigal little sister Lauren back to Los Angeles, Lauren stumbles across a forgotten document – a contract their parents had jokingly drawn up years ago betrothing Ava to their friends’ son.

Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava’s constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she’s in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister’s childhood fiancé. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to reenter the Nickerson sisters’ lives. And always-accountable Ava will soon realize just how binding a contract can be…

I was really thrilled to receive a copy of The Smart One and the Pretty Oneto review. As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I adore chick lit. I’m happy to say that this book was fun and thoroughly enjoyable.

At its core, The Smart One and the Pretty One is about sisters. Having a sister myself, I understand the complicated relationship that ensues: there’s a lot of bickering and plenty of love/hate. But in the end, you are deeply connected; there is a bond there that cannot be broken. My sister and I are much closer now than we used to be, but even back when we argued much more than we laughed, I always knew I could cry on her shoulder. The author captures this dimension of a sisterly relationship perfectly in her book.

I also love the title: The Smart One and the Pretty One. I’m not sure about other sisters, but I can tell you for a fact that in my experience, it is apt. Not that one is necessarily much smarter and the other is much prettier – it’s much more dependent on personality traits. I’m generally the smart one, and my sister the pretty one, but that’s not because my sister is dim (she’s actually in medical school – not dim at all) or I’m horribly disfigured. It’s more that she has the fun, outgoing personality (much like Lauren) and I’ve always been a bit more serious in my life outlook (Ava). In this book, it really is nice to see the way these two stereotypes change shape, and the way Ava slowly transforms into “the pretty one.” I really enjoyed the way it rang true: as you become older, the reasons these generalizations applied fade away, but the stereotypes are still there.

LaZebnik also makes the men in her book very complicated, which seems to be a rarity in chick lit these days. Usually the women are multilayered, but the men are one-dimensional – not true for this book. Daniel and Russell are both complicated characters, and it was fun to slowly peel back their layers through the book to look at their underlying motives for the confusing and sometimes distasteful ways they acted.

In short, I would recommend The Smart One and the Pretty One to anyone who (1) likes chick lit or (2) has a sister. If, like me, you fall in both of those categories, don’t hesitate to pick up this book!

I’m going to end this post with my current favorite picture: my big sister and I the morning before my wedding. Isn’t it the cutest?

Edit: I also did an interesting interview with Claire LaZabnik, if you are interested!


  1. What a wonderful and heartfelt review-I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and that’s a really gorgeous pic of you and your sister-you’re both beautiful!

    This book sounds so great. I’ve read a few good reviews of it and I do like chick lit. One compared it to In Her Shoes in a way and I loved that. I will definitely be picking this one up.

  2. I totally want to read this one after reading your review!

    Love the pic! You both are beautiful!

  3. I don’t consider myself a fan of chick lit, but I read Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LaZebnik, and I thought it was fun to read before bed. I thought she did a good job at bringing her female characters and their friendship and struggles to life. I did NOT like the men in that book, however! Thank you for your review – maybe I’ll read this one some time. That is a beautiful picture, by the way.

  4. Great picture and great review too!

  5. That picture is beautiful!

  6. What a great photo, it’s beautiful! This book sounds right up my boat!

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