My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I alternated between loving this book and being very annoyed by it. I spent more time in the enjoying it side, but got more annoyed as the book went on.
From the Hachette web site:
When Ava Nickerson was a child, her mother jokingly betrothed her to a friend’s son, and the contract the parents made has stayed safely buried for years. Now that still-single Ava is closing in on thirty, no one even remembers she was once “engaged” to the Markowitz boy. But when their mother is diagnosed with cancer, Ava’s prodigal little sister Lauren comes home to Los Angeles where she stumbles across the decades-old document.
Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava’s constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she’s in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister’s childhood fiancé. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to re-enter the Nickerson sisters’ lives, and always-accountable Ava is forced to consider just how binding a contract really is …
I really struggled with this review. Overall, I enjoyed The Smart One and The Pretty One, but it did push a few buttons for me.
What I liked:
- I liked the family relationships in the book. I enjoyed the byplay between the sisters, and how they went about reestablishing their friendship. I found both sisters to be interesting characters.
- Lauren needs to grow up, but she’s got a good heart. Her sister Ava is trying to help her in the growing up department. Sometimes she appreciates this, sometimes she doesn’t.
- Ava’s been grown up for a long time. She’s always taken life seriously. She wants to share this with her younger sister.
- The parents were funny and real and touching. I loved their interactions with each other and the girls.
Those are where the book spent most of its time, and it was good.
I think it is possible I took the book too seriously, but here is what I didn’t like:
- Russell’s character. He never clicked for me. And his tie into my next issue pushed my buttons.
- The message about appearance. The characters say that beauty isn’t important, but their actions say ignoring your appearance is wrong, and they keep coming back to it. The fact that these conversations take place between two gorgeous size 6 women doesn’t help.
My second issue listed there could make for an interesting book club discussion, because I may well be overreacting, but I might not be the only one! There is further food for discussion in the relationship between the sisters, the male/female relationships (not just with Russell) and in the mother’s cancer storyline. There is a Reading Group Guide as well.
If you think you’d enjoy this book, or want to see if you agree with my criticism, or want to argue with me, you’ve got a chance!
Thank you to Hachette Books for providing me a review copy of The Smart One and the Pretty One. Thanks to them, I’m hosting a giveaway of 5 copies!
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Having an address (not a PO Box) in the US or Canada is required. I’ll pick the winners in the evening of October 19.