cover image The Smart One

The Smart One

Jennifer Close. Knopf, $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-307-59686-4

Near the end of Close’s follow-up to her bestselling Girls in White Dresses, Claire thinks, “It was almost like she was right back where she’d started, but it didn’t feel that way.” For the reader, though, that’s exactly how it feels. After ending her engagement, Claire sinks into depression, maxing out her credit cards and finally leaving New York for Philadelphia to move back in with her parents and sister, Martha, who’s still working retail after a failed nursing career. Despite the finality of the breakup, Claire’s mother continues to meet with caterers and florists to plan her daughter’s wedding. How this will all end is clear when we first meet Claire and Martha; Close telegraphs that the way forward is to reclaim lost ground. What’s surprising is that the sisters have so little fun along the way. Martha and Claire don’t seem to have a genuinely kind impulse between them, and when they do finally move on, boredom is a big motivator. There are great stories to be told about families in “boomerang,” but this isn’t one of them. Agent: Sam Hiyate, the Rights Factory. (Apr. 5)