‘Smart Cookie’ by Elly Swartz was a predictable, yet cozy feeling story about growing up and all of the troubles that go along with it. Main character Frankie is a friendly and sweet girl, alternately longing to set her father up so she can once more have a “complete” family, while at the same time trying to figure out her own friendships as well as how to save the bed and breakfast she and her family own. Frankie thinks she can solve it all, but the fact that she is only a sixth grader throws a wrench in her plans much of the time.
Along with her best friend and neighbor, Elliot, she tries to figure out how to save the day and what she feels is left of her family. After her mother died when she was four years old, it hasn’t felt quite whole enough for her, despite her maternal grandmother (Gram) moving in and being there for Frankie and her father. Now that years have passed since she lost her mother, her father is mysteriously even more busy than usual much of the time, as is Gram, and Frankie and Elliot are doing what any pre-adolescents would be doing – looking for something to occupy their time. They (mostly Elliot, but Frankie goes along for the ride) dabble in looking for ghosts, which seems to be a big reason why the bed and breakfast is not doing so well, since people are under the impression that the place is haunted, leading Frankie to believe their business and home is in a lot of trouble since town bad guy Reggie always seems to be lurking and waiting to snatch up the B&B the first chance he gets.
As the story continued, the feeling of family that Frankie felt was not necessarily around is obviously there, despite her not noticing it, lending an ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ style vibe. Her relationship with ex-best friend Jess seemed believable, as kids are always going in and out of friendships, but it was never really explained what happened with them to begin with, beyond Frankie and Elliot’s own speculation on the matter. However, the family and friends vibe, coupled with the idea that things can work out even when you least expect them to, makes the predictability of ‘Smart Cookie’ something that readers can be okay with, since it’s sometimes nice for things to work out just the way one expects, but with a few twists and turns along the way for good measure.
You can find ‘Smart Cookie’ by Elly Swartz here.
*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*