Title: The Smart One
Author: Jennifer Close
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Louise (better know as Weezy) defied her mother’s expectations when she married her beloved husband. Now that her own children are grown, though, Weezy’s finding they are each defying her own expectations, and not in a good way. Her eldest daughter, Martha, is anxiety-prone, lives at home, and works retail, which is why Weezy handles her with the softest touch possible. Her second daughter, Claire, was doing just fine until she split with her fiancé, and now her troubles abound. And her son, Max, is dating a beautiful girl named Cleo, who the whole family would love to hate. But when the unexpected happens to each of Weezy’s children, bringing the entire family under one roof, they all realize how complex the bonds of family are.
Girls in White Dresses, Jennifer Close’s debut novel, received rave reviews. A book about the uncertainty that comes after college when adulthood hasn’t yet set in, it was thoughtful and well written. Now, Close once again tackles uncertainty in her follow-up, The Smart One. Though it contains characters that carry over from Close’s first novel, it can be read as a standalone. In The Smart One, Close asks the question of what happens when all your attempts to be an adult fail? Where do you go and who do you turn to?
The answer, of course, is family, in all its messy, complicated glory. The Coffey family might seem normal on the outside, but like any family, they all have their secrets, failed dreams, and silent ambitions. Close nails the intricacies of family dynamics perfectly in this novel; even if you don’t see your family in the Coffeys, you’ll see someone you’ve known once upon a time in each member of the family. This is Close’s greatest gift, her ability to write relatable realistic characters that leap off the page.
But just because the characters in The Smart One are realistic doesn’t mean they’re likeable. Indeed, there are times in the novel when the reader will hate every member of the Coffey family. That’s not to say they’re horrible characters, but that they act like real people would. They make bad decisions and refuse to help themselves. But somehow, despite these frustrations, Close manages to make each of them endearing in their own way. It’s a great feat, especially considering how complicated each of these characters are.
If you’re looking for smart, savvy women’s fiction, Jennifer Close is an absolute must-read. Not only is this novel enjoyable and easy to read, it’s one that will stay with you for a long time. The Coffey family envelops readers in their fold, and long after the pages are finished turning, readers will wonder about where each of these characters are in their lives. It’s well-written and engaging, with sharp characters that will draw you into this novel from the very first page.
Other books by Jennifer Close: