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The Smart Oneby Jennifer Close
Synopses & Reviews
With her best-selling debut, Girls in White Dresses (An “irresistible, pitch-perfect first novel” —Marie Claire), Jennifer Close captured friendship in those what-on-earth-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life years of early adulthood. Now, with her sparkling new novel of parenthood and sibling rivalry, Close turns her gimlet eye to the only thing messier than friendship: family.
Weezy Coffey’s parents had always told her she was the smart one, while her sister was the pretty one. “Maureen will marry well,” their mother said, but instead it was Weezy who married well, to a kind man and good father. Weezy often wonders if she did this on purpose — thwarting expectations just to prove her parents wrong.
But now that Weezy’s own children are adults, they haven’t exactly been meeting her expectations either. Her oldest child, Martha, is thirty and living in her childhood bedroom after a spectacular career flameout. Martha now works at J.Crew, folding pants with whales embroidered on them and complaining bitterly about it. Weezy’s middle child, Claire, has broken up with her fiancé, canceled her wedding, and locked herself in her New York apartment — leaving Weezy to deal with the caterer and florist. And her youngest, Max, is dating a college classmate named Cleo, a girl so beautiful and confident she wears her swimsuit to family dinner, leaving other members of the Coffey household blushing and stammering into their plates.
As the Coffey children’s various missteps drive them back to their childhood home, Weezy suddenly finds her empty nest crowded and her children in full-scale regression. Martha is moping like a teenager, Claire is stumbling home drunk in the wee hours, and Max and Cleo are skulking around the basement, guarding a secret of their own. With radiant style and a generous spirit, The Smart One is a story about the ways in which we never really grow up, and the place where we return when things go drastically awry: home.
“I want to be friends with all of the narrators of Jennifer Close’s addictive novel.” Glamour
“While Claire, older sister Martha, younger brother Max, and the rest of the Coffey family try to navigate the logistics of having adult children return to the previously empty next, they realize that no right answers can be found in any parenting manual. The Smart One focuses on the intersections of self-discovery, independence, and reliance in the modern family, all enlivened by Close’s signature wit and warmth. Close does an admirable job of equally voicing the Coffey children, straining to reevaluate their priorities under a shared roof, and the Coffey parents, aching to provide guidance without wanting to seem heavy-handed. A touchingly tender, emotionally honest novel about shifting priorities and the nontraditional career paths so many find themselves on.” Booklist
“Close, whose first novel (Girls in White Dresses, 2011) romped with recent college grads newly on their own, focuses here on two sisters on the cusp of 30, both torn between independent womanhood and lingering dependence on parents....Martha, who has always been needy and socially off-kilter, steals the novel....The friction between the sisters is palpable and real....The novel sings in the small moments when its women express uncomfortable truths, undercurrents of sibling resentment and parental disappointment, which usually remain unspoken....Perfect for the beach or a long plane trip.” Kirkus
“The Smart One is emotionally engaging and thoughtful; like Anne Tyler, Close goes straight into the heart of a group of people to show all its flawed, complicated members clearly and deftly and totally without judgment. There is not one dull moment — Close is a subtle and incisive writer who gets better with each new book.” Kate Christensen, author of The Astral
From the author of the national best seller Girls in White Dresses (An "irresistible, pitch-perfect first novel." --Marie Claire): a gloriously funny new novel of sibling rivalry, thwarted expectations, and that place you return to when things go staggeringly awry: home.
Weezy and Will Coffey raised their children, Martha, Claire, and Max, to be kind, smart, and independent. They gave them help with their homework, a dog, and homemade birthday cakes. It's true that Martha's a little too sensitive — she calls Claire several times a week to discuss natural disasters and local crime. And Claire has a short fuse with her sister — she becomes irate when Martha suggests that the two of them attend couples therapy. And Max, the baby and a senior in college, is a little too happy-go-lucky, though not as lucky as everyone would hope. Still, their parents did their best preparing them for the world. So why, Weezy wonders, is Martha living in her childhood bedroom after a career flameout? And why has Claire canceled her wedding and locked herself in her New York apartment? And how has Max managed to get himself into a girlfriend fiasco? A story about the ways in which we never really grow up, The Smart One is a witty, gossipy, perfectly-drawn portrait of family life.
About the Author
Jennifer Close is the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses. Born and raised on the North Shore of Chicago, she is a graduate of Boston College and received her MFA in fiction writing from the New School in 2005. She worked in New York in magazines for many years. She now lives in Washington, DC, and teaches creative writing at George Washington University.
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