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The Smart One

3.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,364 Ratings  ·  583 Reviews
With her best-selling debut, Girls in White Dresses, 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
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Knopf
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 02, 2013 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-deals
This novel depressed the hell out of me. Instead of feeling smart, or even enlightened, or possibly encouraged, I just feel clinically depressed, like I need to see a shrink right now for a Tuesday afternoon appointment, once a week for the rest of my life. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this novel, because I did, but now I feel as though I need to adjust my prescription medication.

Comparing and contrasting motherhood unabashedly from two distinct perspectives, THE SMART ONE gives us Weezy and
Apr 24, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
It always comes as a shock when I’m reading a book about a twentysomething careening towards her thirties and the author makes a cultural reference to the character’s childhood — in this case, the Babysitter’s Club — and I realize that I’m essentially the same age as the character.

I’m not just growing up — I am a grown-up. Full-fledged adulthood, with all its bill-paying, career-building, and marriage-considering, responsible glory. And yet every time I have that realization, I am struck by the
Vanessa / Little Gold Pixel
Eh. I wanted this book to get better. It didn't. It wasn't terrible, but it was nowhere near great. If I could draw this book, it would be a flat line.

Some of the characters are so unlikeable they are grating. I kept waiting for someone to commit Martha, who was clearly insane. I felt pity for Weezy, because apparently you have to be doing something wrong as a mother if none of your kids are prepared to deal with reality as adults. Claire was tolerable, if only because she was the ONLY character
Jan 09, 2013 Andrienne rated it it was amazing
I don't know how I came to pick up this book, I usually go with the date (those publishing earlier, I read first). When I started reading it, I was hooked! Three siblings go back to their childhood home after failing on their own. It follows the lives of the Coffey kids: Martha, the supposed "smart one" who couldn't handle her career as a nurse; Claire, the street smart but super broke and broken hearted; and Max, the baby brother who got his girlfriend knocked up. Usually, a novel like this doe ...more
Apr 23, 2013 Karyn rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley-arc
The Smart One revolves around a year in the life of a family, one where much happens: things fall apart, are pieced back together, or completely replaced. It's a slice of life book - there is no goal, no driving force, and no hope. I found myself involved in their lives, looking forward to a blow up about the various issues they were all hiding. But there was no blow up and no resolution. Life continued on, as it always does.

What did I think of this book? I'm not entirely sure.This isn't normal
Emma Mascall
Mar 17, 2014 Emma Mascall rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I have no idea what this book was trying to say. It gets one star because it was at least well written. It was just load of random events happening to a family (none of them very interesting) no one moved forward or did anything it was like one of those films where there is loads of dialogue but no story. Not worth the time I spent reading it.
Jan 24, 2015 rachel rated it it was amazing
It's not often that I want to hug a book as much as I want to hug this one. Jennifer Close's writing is at times acerbic, at times so vulnerable, always full of the tang of originality and intelligence that isn't sparked so often by typical chick lit storylines -- of which there are a few here. No character's strife doesn't feel real, even if the characters themselves are ones we've seen before.

A humbling confession: the parts about Cleo and the Coffey family's ancient dog made me cry.
Apr 25, 2013 Kay rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, contemporary
I wasn't sure about The Smart One when I started reading it. Claire and Martha, Weezy's daughters, weren't characters I really liked or could really relate too. Both of them were clearly depressed (not clinically, just in a "life is hard" way) and there wasn't much joy in their life - which ironically, made them a bit judgmental.

But then we get to Cleo - and that's when I got really hooked into the novel. I guess it shows my current passion for YA fiction, since Cleo is the youngest of the girl
Aug 05, 2013 Kathi rated it did not like it
I hated this book...I kept hoping it would develop into something more. The characters and their lives and situations were all depressing. They were petty and mean and although some families relate to each other that way I prefer to read something that has some redeeming quality for someone in the novel. I guess for this novel it is the baby.
Feb 04, 2014 Nancy rated it liked it
This is another title that I don't think accurately conveyed the story, at least as tied to the book blurb. I suppose it could fit if it referred to each POV person thinking they were the smart one but still able to make obviously not smart decisions wrt to their lives - but that would require the blurb writer to read the damn book! (A riff on "cover artist - read the damn book!" which occurs from time to time.)

This isn't comparable to Anne Tyler unless you consider inner POVs to be "Anne Tyler
Ilyssa Wesche
May 23, 2013 Ilyssa Wesche rated it liked it
Solid chick literary fiction. As my pal Melissa points out, I didn't particularly like any of these characters. I did appreciate that almost nothing turned out as I thought it might - nothing is more boring than predictability.
When I received an email asking me if I would like to review Jennifer Close’s second novel, I said yes immediately. I know her debut novel was immensely popular, and I have it on my shelf somewhere to be read, and so I knew Jennifer Close came with some backing behind her, especially after I read that her novels are witty, and the novel version of Girls (not that I base what I read on Girls since I’ve never seen it, but I know the gist of what it’s about and so, a book like Girls is going to int ...more
Ali LaFleur
May 17, 2013 Ali LaFleur rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2016 Lianne rated it it was amazing
The Smart One is a wonderful story about the Coffeys' (and, by extension, those connected to them: relatives, girlfriends, best friends, friends from high school, colleagues) and the ups and downs in their lives. Each chapter by each POV is absolutely wonderful, drawing the readers into the lives of this family and the perspective of each character in focus. The author does a fantastic job is really bring their perspectives to life, understand what it means to be a mother worrying for her childr ...more
May 04, 2013 Sara rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book, but it won't win any awards for great literature (not that it pretends to be!) The story was interesting enough and there were some astute insights into that lifetime sentence otherwise known as parenthood. The writing is solid and I had no problem with the pace.

I found the characters annoying and I was often especially frustrated by the matriarch, Weezy (did NOT like that name - it infantilizes the character and is an ongoing and unpleasant reminder of breathing di
Holly Madison
Oct 28, 2013 Holly Madison rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
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 i
Laura P
May 20, 2013 Laura P rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
The Smart One is an introspective look at the lives of all the female Coffey family members. The book is very character driven. Every chapter alternates perspective, while many events overlap. Having multiple characters reference the same events, revelations, or family fights, was really interesting and very well done. Each character has a very specific voice, that represents how easily people view or perceive the same situations differently. But, even though their is a focus on these events, th ...more
Katie Ryan
Dec 21, 2012 Katie Ryan rated it it was ok
Jennifer Close has perfectly depicted the stress and chaos of returning to live at home as an adult. Written from the perspective of four different women, The Smart One removes readers from the comfort of rooting for a single protagonist and instead shifts constantly between college-going Cleo, the slightly neurotic Martha, over-worrying Weezy, and debt-ridden Claire.
The Smart One attempts to refuse stereotypes of mindless Chick Lit and focuses on more realistic issues than shopping and man-trou
May 13, 2013 Linds rated it liked it
Jennifer Close is very good at capturing the early adulthood experience of a certain demographic (her books kind of remind of the TV show Girls). As someone who falls into that demographic, I can relate to her characters, particularly those in The Smart One. I expected this book to be written entirely from the mother's point of view and am glad that it wasn't, as I related most to the two daughters, who are both 30/almost 30, yet living at home and kind of stuck. One quote that I liked (of cours ...more
Chris Markley
Nov 22, 2014 Chris Markley rated it really liked it
A story of coming of age and family the Smart One takes a look at 1 long year of turmoil in the life of a family and the changes that come with it.

Weezy's first priority has always been her children but now that her youngest Max is a senior at college she's not sure what to do with herself.

Martha was focused on becoming a nurse but when that doesn't work out quite as planned she finds herself living at home & working as a manager at J. Crew. The only one she really talks to is her therapist
Liz Barnsley
This Review from Mel originally posted on Mel Says Jump and Liz Loves Books.

Many thanks to Vintage for providing a copy of this book for review.

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 childr
Destanye Baldwin
Mar 22, 2014 Destanye Baldwin rated it liked it
I thought this book was okay. I feel that Coffey's were an interesting family that showed a confusing family dynamic. Clearly it shows how the matriarch was the boss of the family. What she says goes. I think a lot of times she enabled her children to become adults.
She started to understand that a little bit towards the end, but she really didn't change her ways. For instance the Martha character was so annoying to me. She was the epitome of a crazy person. I think her mother babies her to much
Mar 18, 2014 Kumari rated it did not like it
This book belongs on Lifetime. Yes, the network that brings you an endless array of women victims.

I hated it. I had no idea how much I would or could. The more I think and write, I realize that actually my sensibilities are offended.

I really hated it. The book begins by dropping into the two daughters' lives then their mother's. They are all awful - neurotic, powerless, and clueless. Very sad. Depressed. Each is dissatisfied with their lives (clearly because of the choices they made, that usua
Sep 19, 2014 Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jennifer Close has a unique writing style and it's really enjoyable to read. She tells a bunch of small stories from different character perspectives in each chapter. It's very appealing to me. The only downfall is it makes the book feel twice as long, but I did not mind because I was so invested in the characters. The only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 (view spoiler) ...more
Warren Gossett
Nov 19, 2014 Warren Gossett rated it it was ok
I contrast this book with Alena Graedon's The Word Exchange. Both are published on the past year or two about 20 something's in New York City. This book, The Smart One by Jennifer Close is a realistic look at the dull, boring life of conventional middle class and downwardly mobile suburban types who are cabined, cribbed, confined. They lack the inspiration to aim for anything beyond respectability. There is no originality, no art, no science, no beauty. And if there is beauty it is to be control ...more
Aug 24, 2014 Cara rated it liked it
I read this book under the title, 'Things We Need'. I'm not sure what the reason behind this is but, it is the same story. I have to say that I liked it but I wasn't in love with it.The story revolves around a year in the life of a family as told through the eyes of the female members of the family. I found it just a little bit off putting that the two significant male characters had no voice apart from when viewed through the eyes of Wheezy, Claire, Martha and Cleo. They were clearly part of th ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: own
I liked this, but not as much as Girls in White Dresses. I like Jennifer Close's writing quite a bit, though I know the focus on the ordinary every day events of life is not everyone's cup of tea, I tend to appreciate it. I had trouble with how difficult some of the characters were... it was just grating to read about Weezy underestimating her adult children and trying to run their lives, for example. I also felt that this one felt much more exclusive/less universal than Girls in White Dresses d ...more

I wish I could say that my adoration for this novel snuck up on me, and that I fell in love gradually, but I knew after the first chapter that this was something special.

At first we're introduced to Claire, who's shut up in her New York apartment, immobile by fear and guilt over her actions, and I immediately thought, that sounds like something I would do.

Next we meet Martha, Claire's older sister who's abandoned her job and education as a nurse to work as "safe" job at J.Crew. She's never had a
Dec 27, 2015 Eileen rated it did not like it
I should have listened to my spider-sense. This was chick-lit unworthy of my time. I kept reading, thinking that the characters would evolve into people that make smart decisions eventually. The writing style was easy to read but the message was depressing. The adult children move back into their parent's home after disasters with career, broken engagement, pregnant girlfriend. The mom is not invested into anything but her children's lives. The dad overcompensates by being really emotionally rem ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Anne rated it really liked it
After J. Courtney Sullivan, Jennifer Close is my favorite chick-lit author. She includes the predictable dramas that make this genre so readable, but as with Girls in White Dresses, she surprises the reader with sharp insights and witty asides. Women 25-45 will relate to discussions of moving home, struggling with a job that's not a career, feeling ill-prepared to succeed and being unsure of the right path. While appealing to the same audience as Jennifer Weiner or Meg Cabot, Close doesn't take ...more
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What's The Name o...: book about 3 adult children moving home [s] 5 22 Apr 19, 2014 10:17AM  
book giveaway-books i have won 7 10 Oct 02, 2013 02:17AM  
book 1 2 Sep 07, 2013 05:02PM  
THE SMART ONE 2 4 Aug 29, 2013 01:27PM  
Is this just another edition of the Smart One? 3 17 Aug 07, 2013 12:04AM  
Mansfield Public ...: The Smart One Review by Sharon Wapen 1 1 Jul 03, 2013 09:37AM  
Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Picks - The Smart One by Jennifer Close 1 13 Apr 04, 2013 02:32PM  
  • The Best of Us
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  • All the Summer Girls
  • Sweet Life
  • The List
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  • No One Could Have Guessed the Weather
  • The Arrivals
  • The Engagements
  • What Nora Knew
  • I Couldn't Love You More
  • Out to Lunch
  • You Knew Me When
  • What You Wish For: A Novel
  • The Wednesday Daughters
  • The Good Daughter (A Brennan Sisters, #2)
Jennifer Close was 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 and then in Washington, D.C., as a bookseller. Girls in White Dresses is her first book.
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“I just think you can't be so quick to be so sure of other people's situations. Examine your own situation. You also have a lot of choices. It's not always easier for other people. It doesn't work like that.” 4 likes
“That was all she wanted. To be back somewhere where no one looked at her strangely, where she fit in. And she knew that place was New York.” 0 likes
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