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The trade reviews (with one ubiquitous and snarky exception) have also been positive. Here are a couple:
In this character-driven novel, the relationship of a trio of sisters is pushed to the brink by long-simmering jealousies and grievances brought to the surface by old flames and new loves. Bev is the middle sister, the smart one, divorced and between jobs, always conscious of meeting her family’s expectations. Eldest sister Clare feels pressure to live up to her reputation as the pretty one, with her storybook marriage, beautiful family, and affluent suburban home. Youngest sister Joey is the talented one, the former rock star–turned–recovering drug addict who resists every encouragement to return to the stage. When the sisters discover a body concealed in a drum found in the crawl space beneath a neighbor’s home, their sleuthing plays out against family drama and romantic tugs-of-war. Despite being punctuated by a couple of wrenching plot points and the somewhat ambiguous resolution, the novel is fast-paced and features great dialog. Meister’s second novel (after Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA) is a fresh take on the familiar “she’s the smart/funny/talented one” refrain. Recommended for all public libraries.—Amy Brozio-Andrews, Albany P.L., NY, LIBRARY JOURNAL
Bev Bloomrosen, the middle of three sisters, has always been envious of her siblings. While her older sister, Clare, has gotten by on her looks and her younger sister, Joey, has everyone on edge with her wild past, everyone has always had high expectations for Bev. At 35 Bev has turned to teaching and is considering leaving New York for a job in Las Vegas. She agrees to spend the summer at her parents’ house while they frolic in Florida with their next-door neighbors and to help facilitate the sale of the neighbors’ house. Things get complicated when Kenny, the next-door neighbors’ handsome son who Bev has always carried a torch for, shows up, considering a move home. Bev is just as smitten as before, but despite the fact that Kenny seems interested, she can’t get over the fact that he slept with Joey when they were teens. Add a murder mystery to this tale of sibling rivalry for a perfect beach read. — Kristine Huntley, BOOKLIST
And here's a review from an online publication called Romance Reader at Heart, which designated THE SMART ONE a "top pick":
Ellen Meister's THE SMART ONE is a charming story about familial roles that shows life in suburbia in all its guises.
Three sisters, each with her own expectations and position in a family, are thrown together just when they most need each other. One is pretty, one is a druggie/performer, and one, the primary focus of this story, is the smart one. Unfortunately, at this point the smart sister is feeling anything but brilliant. Her life is in shambles, she's contemplating a career move and her marriage has just broken up. She's back in the neighborhood where she grew up and dealing with the same people she thought she'd left behind. One of those people is Kenny, the heartthrob of her teenage years who cheated on her with her own sister. So many issues need to be resolved, so many heartbreaks to be mended, and that is before Bev and her sisters, along with Kenny, find a body in an industrial drum.
I liked everything about this story. That's not to say there weren't difficult points for these characters—there were, plenty of them. It doesn't mean that the whole plot was a peaches-and-cream romance—it wasn't. And saying that I liked everything about this doesn't mean there weren't parts where I wished I could have made things easier for Bev and the girls, and even Kenny. There were. Lots of them. But the fact that this author had those points in this book, and somehow managed to resolve all of them so successfully with an ending that is wonderfully appropriate, is the reason I liked it all. This story is realistic, peopled with characters who have ordinary lives, with their share of hardships and troubles. Still, there's a reasonable ending for all of them, one that shows that even in good families there's room for growth and, sometimes, an adjustment of family roles and expectations.
If you're looking for a smart, humorous story about families, look no further. THE SMART ONE by Ellen Meister is a down-to-earth story that made me wish I had a sister of my own! --
Once THE SMART ONE launches in August I'll start my massive coast-to-coast tour. The coasts I'm talking about, of course, are the North and South Shores of Long Island. If you're around I hope you can join me. Here's what's on the itinerary so far:
- Friday, August 8, 7pm
- THE SMART ONE Book Launch
- Borders Syosset
- 425 Jericho Turnpike
- Sunday, August 10, 11:30am - 1:00pm
- Writers on the Vine
- Palmer Vineyards
- Aquebogue, NY
- Thursday, August 14, 7pm
- Summer Suburbanistas:
- Book talk by Ellen Meister & Saralee Rosenberg
- Book Revue
- Huntington, NY
- Tuesday, August 19, 7pm
- Book chat by Saralee Rosenberg & Ellen Meister
- Barnes & Noble - Country Glen Center
- Carle Place, NY
- Saturday, August 23, 2pm
- Book chat by Ellen Meister & Saralee Rosenberg
- Barnes & Noble - Smith Haven Mall
- Lake Grove, NY
- Tuesday, September 16, 10:30am
- Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library
- 1125 Broadway, Hewlett, NY