Book Review: The Smart One by Jennifer Close
I can’t believe I haven’t posted in almost a month! It has been a whirlwind time, to say the least, and I’m hoping I will now be able to get back on track with my reading and posting. This month has brought drastic changes to my world: I moved to Brooklyn, got a job, started that job, and have finally begun to settle into a new, post-college way of life. Although challenging at times, the past few weeks have been incredibly rewarding and exciting.
As though it was meant to be, I picked up Jennifer Close’s newest novel The Smart One before anything had begun. After reading (twice, by accident!) her best-selling novel Girls in White Dresses, I was interested to see if I would enjoy Close’s next book as much. Girls in White Dresses is an engaging tale about young women in their 20s moving to new cities and learning how to cope with the drastic adult changes that began to affect their group of friends. I figured even though Close’s next novel was geared more towards family, she would still have insightful advice to share about new beginnings.
The novel follows the storyline of four family members who find themselves disappointed, frustrated, unearthed, and amazed by the new experiences of their lives. Claire, who recently broke off her engagement to her live-in boyfriend, feels unsheltered and in danger of collapse. Deeply in debt and lonely, Claire decides to quit her job and move back home while she figures things out. Her older sister, Martha, who also lives at home, is unnerved by her lack of enjoyment at her job. Although she went to school to become a nurse, Martha gave up her profession early on and became a store manager at JCrew. Martha finally decides she’s had enough, she believes it’s time to return to nursing and follow her earlier dreams.
When her two older daughters drastically upheave their lives, their mother, Weezy is only slightly concerned. Excited to have both her daughters home under her roof, Weezy feels as though she has a chance to mother again. Until she remembers how torturous it was the first time around. Caught between trying to be supportive and angered by how miserably her daughters fight and treat her, Weezy is wondering when Claire and Martha (now reaching their 30s) will figure their lives out.
At the heart of it all, Weezy’s youngest, Max, in college and dating the beautiful Cleo, begins to have problems of his own. As graduation approaches, it seems that Max and Cleo may be destined for Weezy’s basement as well.
In the end, The Smart One becomes a gripping tale about finding who you truly want to be and surviving the tough times while you make your discovery. Claire, Martha, Max, Cleo, and Weezy spend most of the novel unhappy with their choices until they are able to understand the rewards they reap at the end. It is a novel about finding your bearings and discovering how strong you can be, just by relinquishing your ego for a little while.
I truly enjoyed The Smart One, especially at a time in my life when I am finding out just how strong I can be, Close accurately depicts the trials and tribulations of the makings of success. If you are at a place in your life where you are looking for something else, I recommend giving The Smart One a quick read.