The Smart One? More like The Unhappy One!
By Jennifer Close
Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95, 352 pages
Weezy and Will are looking forward to having an empty nest after the departures of three almost-grown children; however, their world changes when all the children return to their childhood home within a short span. The children—Claire, Martha, and Max—are all facing challenges in their own lives and realize that solace can only come in the form of their childhood home and their parents. And that is the story of Jennifer Close’s The Smart One, her second novel.
As I was reading, it was hard for me to follow which character Smart was referring to. Was it Weezy? Was it Clarie? Who was it? This led me to another question: are there more to these characters than meets the eye?
Throughout the story, I felt that each character—especially Weezy, who needed too much involvement with her children—was making mountains out of molehills. Yes, people return home after living independently. They leave their careers, they have babies while in college—it’s called life, and it’s unexpected. These choices can put a family on edge and force them to reexamine themselves. Maybe if Weezy had used her energy elsewhere and focused on career of some kind I would have more sympathy for her. I did like Will, who was able to focus on classes and at the same time understand that his children needed to stand on their own two feet.
These characters left me saying, “Eh…ok,” and not feeling fulfilled as a reader, which made me look forward to next my story even more. I was left wanting more.
Reviewed by Annie Hicks