The Smart One and the Pretty One Review
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Ava Nickerson has always been The Smart One in her family. Resourceful and responsible, Ava now has a successful career as a lawyer in LA.

Her younger sister, Lauren, on the other hand, has always been The Pretty One. A buyer for a fashionable boutique in New York, Lauren has always paid more attention to her hair and makeup and shoes than to her bills. So when their mother falls ill—just when she’s about to be evicted from her apartment—Lauren decides that it’s the perfect time to head back home to California.

As soon as Lauren shows up, lawyer Ava begins obsessing over her sister’s debt, forcing her to sign a fake contract, agreeing not to buy anything unnecessary. But Lauren finds a contract of her own to hold against her contract-obsessed sister. While digging through a closet in her parents’ house, she finds a contract that betrothes her sister to Russell Markowitz, a former neighbor. Since Ava won’t stop meddling in Lauren’s life, Lauren decides to fight back—by tracking down her sister’s fiancé.

Like most chick lit, The Smart One and the Pretty One is built on a pretty implausible (not to mention predictable) story. The fact that the long-lost contract shows up in a closet after being hidden for nearly two decades is just a bit too convenient—even for chick lit—and many of the novel’s other details feel so forced and contrived that it’s often distracting.

Still, I love a good work of chick lit—even when it’s far from believable. So I’d be happy to overlook a few questionable details, as long as the story has something else to offer—like a bunch of lovable characters (or even characters that I can relate to). It’s unfortunate, then, that it’s so hard to like any of the characters in The Smart One and the Pretty One. Ava is dowdy and stubborn and clueless—and she’s generally pretty cranky. Lauren, on the other hand, is shallow and superficial—and she just can’t stop meddling into her sister’s life. As for the men, Russell does nothing but complain about women—and he keeps trying to dress Ava in clothes that she doesn’t want and turn her into someone she doesn’t want to be. And Daniel, the guy whom Lauren meets when she’s at the hospital with her mother, is such a jerk that it’s hard to understand why Lauren’s even the slightest bit interested in him. And, together, these four unlikable characters make The Smart One and the Pretty One a difficult read.

For a smarter chick lit read, complete with real characters and an engaging story, I recommend skipping The Smart One and the Pretty One and picking up a copy of LaZebnik’s last novel, Knitting Under the Influence, instead.

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