Today I’m featuring The Smart One, by Jennifer Close, a story of family.
Intro: From inside her apartment, Claire could hear the neighbor kids in the hall. They were running from one end to the other, the way they sometimes did, kicking a ball or playing tag, or just running for running’s sake. They had their dog with them too, a big, sad golden retriever named Ditka, who always looked confused, like he couldn’t understand why or how he’d ended up living in an apartment in New York.
Claire muted the TV and listened to see if the kids were going to stay out there for a while, or if they were just waiting for their parents to take them somewhere. She hoped it was the second option. It was Saturday morning, which meant they had hours ahead of them. Having them out there made her feel trapped in her own apartment. Just because she was sitting on the couch in sweatpants and had no plans to leave didn’t make the feeling go away. She could sense their presence on the other side of the wall, so close to her. She could see the shadow of Ditka’s nose as he sniffed at the bottom of the door. They were invading her space, what little of it she had. And it was interfering with her plan to be a hermit for the whole three-day weekend, something she was getting better and better at.
Teaser: (After Claire and Doug had moved in together): Then one night, after an argument about whether they should order Thai food or sushi that ended with Doug calling Claire overdramatic and Claire calling Doug controlling, he had sighed. “What’s going on with us?” (p. 10)
Amazon Blurb: 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.
Does the intro grab you? Would you keep reading? I hope you’ll stop by and chat.