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Smart Girls Like Me Paperback – November 11, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Blogger Vadino ( does a good job in her first novel of capturing the inner life of a chronic worrier as she navigates late '90s New York City. The reluctant assistant editor of a dot-com fashion magazine, Betsey Nilssen stocks up on freeze-dried foods, convinced the world is going to end on January 1, 2000. But Betsey's busy, pre-apocalypse best friend Bridget Callahan is planning her perfect wedding, and office crush Ryan Wells finally returns Betsey's affections. Though Betsey is crazy about him, and he seems devoted, his having just split with his longtime girlfriend causes some doubts that Bridget exploits. Bridget, meanwhile, is dispassionate about fiancé James, which causes Betsey to wonder who has the right attitude when it comes to being in love. Vadino peppers her prose with unmistakable and convincing period references (the Discman, Zima, the X-Files), including a quick (and heartbreaking) line about being disoriented downtown until spotting the World Trade Center. Office politics at the scrappy e-mag run true, and while Betsey's neurotic obsessing could be pruned, Vadino gets into her head while still making her sympathetic, especially as her fixation on Ryan threatens to send her off the deep end. The novel's bittersweet tone carries through to a satisfying conclusion. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Diane Vadino is an exhilarating talent . . . This is a slight, beautiful novel that makes you wish there were more smart girls like her writing books.” ―Nylon

Smart Girls Like Me [is] like moving Bridget Jones to New York . . . Betsy's humorous internal monologues keep the reader engaged from first page to last.” ―San Francisco Chronicle

“A raw and honest glimpse of single life. The witty, poignant Vadino writes exactly how Smart Girls think.” ―Entertainment Weekly

“[T]o maintain your dignity while giving into your chick lit urge . . .With seriously good writing by this McSweeney's alum, Smart Girls is as fun and relatable as one of those silly pink books . . .” ―Marie Claire

“For many years I have marveled at Diane Vadino’s ability to take the plainest little sentence and extend and twist it into something finer, funnier, revealing, and sad. Like this one from the book you are holding right now and ought to buy immediately: ‘Or maybe this is all a fabrication, a way to soften the fact that she is sashimi at Nobu and I am Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese and that this is less an illuminating metaphor than it is an accurate description of what we both ate for dinner last night.’ That’s just one of the beguiling double helixes that make up the DNA of this book: a zippy-smart, bitter-funny read with a beautiful, accomplished novel hidden in its genetic code, expressing itself like a sudden bright blue eye in a family of brown-eyed children---at the most surprising times.” ―John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise

“Diane Vadino is a writer of enormous gifts, all of which are on display here, in her brilliant debut: a keen intelligence and wit, an amazing imagination, and an incisive understanding of human beings and the dilemmas---fantastical and mundane---in which they entangle themselves. She is that rarity: a young artist able to offer wisdom without pretension, inspiration without inhibition. I have no doubt this is the beginning of a long and wonderful career.” ―Nicholas Christopher, author of The Bestiary and A Trip to the Stars

“Diane Vadino is a warm, funny, and talented young writer. In her terrific first novel she transports us to the roller-coaster ride that is single life in the city---pleasingly paced, perfectly detailed scenes replete with Diane von Furstenberg dresses, meatloaf sandwiches, a job in media, credit card debt thanks to various bridesmaid honors, and crushing heartbreak at a downtown RadioShack. Never again will I reflect on those excruciatingly embarrassing moments of obsessive young love and feel alone.” ―Jenny Minton, author of The Early Birds

“Fabulously entertaining, insightful, and touching in its telling of a young woman finding her own voice, her own path in life. Diane Vadino is an exceptional new discovery in fiction!” ―Kirsten Lobe, author of French Trysts: Secrets of a Courtesan and the bestselling Paris Hangover


Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312385528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312385521
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,955,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mara Zonderman on January 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Despite the title of this book, Betsy is not a smart girl. She may have better grammar than the people she works with, she may even be more intelligent than most of them, but she gives little evidence of actually being smart. She spends the bulk of the book being snippy about her best friend's upcoming wedding (to the point that if she were my maid of honor, I would have fired her!) and obsessing about her juvenile relationship with her maybe-boyfriend. At the end of the book she has the predictable revelation about her life and her relationships and the true meaning of being happy, but she spent so much of the book acting like an idiot that I couldn't really bring myself to care.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By kt on October 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The writing is just so good that sometimes I have to pause and review how this author has just expressed a thought I've had myself without such clever delivery. And the story is poignant in a way that really speaks to me after I've left my 20's and my friends have started to drop off, one by one to husbands and babies. Her funny and dead-on references remind me of the Apatow/Rogen movies-brilliantly witty but tender at the same time. I can't wait to read what this author writes next!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As the millennium counts down, twenty four Betsy Nilssen feels lonely as her best friend Bridget Callahan is marrying a medical hunk on some exotic privately owned South Pacific rock. As the maid of honor, Betsy will be there, but she would rather be at a swinging New Year's Eve Party rather than attend a wedding unescorted.

At the same time as 1999 counts down, she fears the end of days will begin on January 1 so she has filled her Manhattan apartment with non perishable food and frets over Y2K shutting down the world. However, the first bright spot occurs when Ryan Wells returns from Japan to work at the same place that bores her since he left. She is attracted to him and him to her. As they begin to see one another and she dreams he will accompany her to Bridget's wedding, she learns he is also sleeping with their boss Eva. Hurt and despondent as she was sure he was the one, she quits her quits her job and moves back to her parents' house in the burbs. Betsy fails Bridget until all hell breaks out between the once best friends in the tropics.

SMART GIRLS LIKE ME is an engaging chick lit tale because of the witty cheeky asides, barbs and skin removing hits tossed like hand grenades by a biting Betsy. Her observations peel away the veneer of polite packaging from her musing that a wedding invitation is actually an overdraft credit card to what happens to best of female friends when a third party nukes the relationship dynamics. Although the plot is thinner than Twiggy ever was, fans will enjoy this intelligent look at the impact of a fiancé on the relationship between best friends.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Beth Settje VINE VOICE on May 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Though Betsy, the main character, is realistic and usually likable, I could not relate well to her. She is self destructive at a point in her life where I would expect her to be getting it all together. Perhaps that is too judgemental, but I had a hard time getting comfortable in her shoes. As Betsy negotiates friendships, work, romantic relationships, and ultimately her own purpose, the reader is taken on a roller coaster ride through her many twists, turns, flips, and sometimes upside-down positions. From the way Betsy treats and is treated by her best friend Bridget, to her emotional havoc with boyfriend Ryan, the story does not always flow. Yet, in critiquing from a literary standpoint, the book is written well, with an excellent use of the English language, as Betsy loves words. From a plot perspective, though, I found the story lacking. However, the ending does not tie everything up in a nice knot, which is actually appreciated. The reader is left wondering a bit about Betsy's next decision, which may be full of possibility and discovery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By groovymamma on March 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Growing up and growing wiser tale from a young woman who's about to watch her best friend get married and wonders where her own future lies. Betsey cannot get into the spirit of being maid of honour for Bridget, although she tries because she loves and values their friendship. Vadino deftly conveys the limitless confusion and decisions that mark this time in a woman's life. When her friends start getting married and they start to ponder over their own failed relationships and going nowhere job. Betsey has a quirky romance with an office mate and her rapture (however brief) stirs doubt in Bridget's heart, having gone past the initial rush of new love and now settling into a life. The crossroads these two friends find themselves at is a familiar dilemma and this is a well crafted debut novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Smalle on December 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a fabulous book - before I even finished it I bought it for three of my friends for Christmas - it's just that kind of book you'll want to share with all your best friends. I myself wouldn't have picked it up if it weren't for a friend's very strong recommendation. Usually I find books like this terribly depressing, but in this case, I truly put it down feeling more excited about my own life and options. Plus it's hysterical - I laughed out loud more than once. A must read!!
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