Friday, August 22, 2008

Book Review: The Smart One by Ellen Meister

Three sisters all with their own role in the family: Bev, our narrator is “the smart one”, older sister Clare is “the pretty one”, and younger sister Joey is “the wild one”. Each is struggling to define themselves beyond these set roles with varying degrees of success. Bev wants to move away to escape her family’s disapproval of her career choices, Clare flirts with having an affair because her own husband doesn’t make her feel beautiful anymore, and Joey tries to stay clean and off drugs. Throw a couple of hot guys, a midget couple, and a murder mystery in to the mix and you have a novel that is as messy and unpredictable as real life.

There is a lot to like here: some laugh out loud funny scenes, well drawn characters, and sharp dialogue. The murder mystery is inspired by something that really happened on Long Island and gives the narrative a nice anchor. Trouble is, there were also a few things I didn’t like so much. There were a couple of incredibly preposterous scenes (i.e. the “Letterman” scene and a car wreck that induces burns without further mention of these burns) and love interest Kenny did some things that really rubbed me the wrong way. But what bothered me the most was the frequency with which the author goes off on unnecessary tangents that distract from the plot (and frankly made reading a chore).

I was drawn in by the cover (I just can’t resist apples), daunted by the length (358 slow going pages), driven to finish by my commitment to the Blog Stops Book Tour (go there for links to more blogger reviews), but ultimately disarmed by this story of three sisters and their bond. I am still thinking about them a few days later. My verdict? A tough read, but charming nonetheless.

8 comments:

Dar said...

Hi Lenore, I've seen this one around a bit lately. I'm not sure whether I want to read it or not. Most of the reviews have been like yours-where they think it's ok but not great. Anyhow, your's is a great review.

Lenore said...

Dar - I think it's worth it if you don't mind the tangents. I tend to be more of a circular than linear conversationalist but it drives me kinda crazy when books read like that.

Dawn said...

The tangents didn't bother me as I felt they added to the character development. I also finished the book in two quick nights... I think it's a fast, breezy read.

I'll be posting my review at www.allcotmedia.blogspot.com in a few days, though, so I won't say more until then. ;)

Lenore said...

Dawn - it totally might have been a breezy read for me too had I been in a different mood - who knows? And I get what you are saying about the character development, but I think it could have been handled in a more effective manner. Could be just me though! I will check out your review.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Lenore: Love your review. You write so well, it's great!!!
But anyway, I think i'd be the same as you in some ways and not quite enjoy the long tangents. It sounds like a fun little book in some ways though!

Lauren

Kathleen said...

I do love the over :) And as the oldest sister in my fam, it sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out!

Kathleen said...

that should be **cover** not over....!

Traci said...

I love the cover. I've added this one to my wishlist.