The Smart One
By Jennifer Close
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307743701, 432pp.)
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
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The Coffey siblings are having a rough year. Martha is thirty and working at J. Crew after a spectacular career flameout; Claire has broken up with her fiancé and locked herself in her New York apartment until her bank account looks as grim as her mood; and the baby of the family, Max, is dating a knockout classmate named Cleo and keeping a very big, very life-altering secret. The only solution—for all of them—is to move back home.
But things aren’t so easy the second time around, for them or for their mother, Weezy. Martha and Claire have regressed to fighting over the shared bathroom, Weezy can’t quite bring herself to stop planning Claire’s thwarted wedding, and Max and Cleo are exchanging secretive whispers in the basement. Jennifer Close’s funny and tender follow-up to her bestselling debut novel is a story about the ways in which we never really grow up, and the people we turn to when things go drastically wrong: family.
Jennifer Close is the bestselling 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.
- What do the descriptions of Claire’s relationships with Doug [pp. 7–10], her friends [p. 5–6], and her boss [p. 11] establish about her? Are her reactions to the broken engagement and her financial situation typical? To what extent is her situation the result of own her choices?
“Wit and vibrant characters make The Smart One an engaging exploration of a thoroughly modern family dynamic.” —People
“I want to be friends with all of the narrators of this addictive novel.” —Megan Angelo, Glamour
“A pleasure to read.” —Daily News
“This bighearted novel examines a generation of nonstarters with a mix of empathy and Close’s signature deadpan, pathos-driven humor.” —Entertainment Weekly
“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
“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 Reviews
“The Smart One has such authentic, multifaceted characters.” —Book Riot
“A well-written family drama in which all the characters keep moving forward, but not all the loose ends are completely and neatly tied. . . . Sure to please.” —Library Journal
“Close’s gift as a writer is her spare but delicious prose and unflinching way of describing her characters.” —The Globe and Mail
“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. . . . A touchingly tender, emotionally honest novel about shifting priorities and the nontraditional career paths so many find themselves on.” —Booklist