the-smart-one-by-jennifer-closeReviewed by Holly Madison

I didn’t know what to expect when I began reading The Smart One, by Jennifer Close. This was my first time reading a book by her and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself immediately hooked.

This story follows the perspectives of four women in the Coffee family over the course of a year, and although each character is drastically different from the next, I found a little bit of myself in each of them.

Weezy is the mother figure, and although her life has turned out better than she ever hoped it would, she suddenly finds her home filled with her now adult children as different situations bring them back to the family nest. Endearing, likeable, and bit of a worry wart, Weezy’s perspective is a great reminder that although children may grow up and leave the nest, they will never stop needing their parents.

Claire is the middle daughter, and she has recently been dumped by her fiance. The pain and feelings of failure are all too familiar to most people, and her story hits close to home. Numb, slightly heartbroken, and incredibly lost, her financial struggles bring her back from New York to Pennsylvania to try and collect herself and find the inspiration to start again.

Cleo is the youngest son’s fiancé, and she is probably my favorite character. Gorgeous but oblivious to her beauty, she is not technically part of the family until the end of the book, but her viewpoint gives us an outsider’s perspective of the Coffee family and shows us why they are all so rare and special.

Martha is the oldest child, but is probably the most delicate and the most reliant on her family home for support. She is intelligent but incredibly sensitive to anxiety, and she finds herself in a state of constant worry. Her transformation is probably the most subtle, but she does end up changing quite a lot by the end of this book. Her ending isn’t laid out in black and white, but rather hinted at (which I love) as we see subtle changes and an ending that’s left up to the reader.

The book begins with a summer at the family beach house, and it ends there a year later. Although the characters all end up in the same place at the end, a beautiful transformation takes place in each and every one of them – it’s not obvious, but the subtle stories that intertwine make for a wonderful and charming read. There’s no huge climax and no dramatic scene that the book leads up to, but rather small stories that show how each character thinks and feels, and how they get through their struggles with the help of their family.

And that’s what this book is really about. Above all else, it is about family – embracing the challenges that we all must face, finding a way to start again when things fall apart, and relying on those that we love to get through hard times.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Holly is a digital artist and an environmental scientist. She also participates in parrot and exotic animal rescue.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Vintage. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.