SMART WOMEN by Judy Blume


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In her popular books for young people, Blume has often worked empathically within a teen frame of reference; and here, though the prime focus is on the highs and histrionics of a trio of 40-ish, divorced professional women in Boulder, Colorado, it's their kids whose common-denominator fears and angers ring true. As for the mothers, they're a rather vacuous and tiresome lot: mother-of-two Margo (solar condo designer) counts up the 17 men she's slept with (including 21-year-old Eric) and has been divorced five years from Freddy, who wanted a Stepford Wife; real-estater Francine--a.k.a. "B.B."--lost her ten-year-old son in a car crash, divorced her journalist-husband, now clings to twelve-year-old daughter Sara; and oil heiress Clare is from Texas, with a philandering ex and a kid named Puffin. The women's men will criss-cross, of course. Thus, Margo is soaking in her hot-tub in her "funky upside down house" when Andrew, B.B.'s attractive ex, slides in on a neighborly visit; they'll soon be lovers. Meanwhile, fringe anorexic B.B., erstwhile friend of Margo, remains off-center with unresolved grief, her hate/need of Andrew, and traumatic family-past relationships: she's hovering near a breakdown. And, as Margo tries to juggle love, lust, and guilts, with B.B. dangerously raging and sulking, their children are adrift in the wake. Sara is slowly absorbed into the Margo/Andrew household--to the disgust of Margo's daughter Michelle, 17. Puffin becomes pregnant by Margo's son Stuart, and Michelle sees her through an abortion. Michelle has her first affair with Eric (Margo's Eric). The kids, often feeling "invisible," weather screaming fights, uprooting of their homes, and wonder why parents can't simply love them. ("You couldn't trust parents. They were only interested in you when they didn't have anyone else. As soon as they had lovers, forget it.") But finally, after B.B. has a near-fatal crackup, there's a flurry of upbeat fadeouts: B.B. is in therapy; Margo's kids, with Sara and Andrew, are beginning to coalesce into a family; there's a wedding in the works; and Margo, in her hot tub, counts her blessings. The kid-talk is convincing, even if the kids themselves are only moderately so. The adults, in or out of Jacuzzi, are flaky, arid, and just plain tiresome. But, like Blume's previous "adult" novel Wifey, this has enough glossy anguish to pull in her readership--with trendy-soap appeal to adolescents of all ages.
Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1983
ISBN: 0425206556
Page count: 354pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1983


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