The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

The Hopefuls by Jennifer CloseThe Hopefuls by Jennifer Close
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on July 19th 2016
Source: Library
Pages: 320
Buy from IndieBound



It’s no secret that I tend to like pretty serious, dark books, so things get a little tricky when I’m really looking to escape. Most of the time, I find it easiest to hide out in the stable facts of nonfiction, but the craziness of late has had me seeking out something a little more light and fun. The Hopefuls came by at just the right time.

When her husband, Matt, gets a job working for the Obama administration, Beth has to leave behind New York City for Washington, D.C. Though Matt quickly adjusts to the change, Beth despises both D.C. and the people she encounters, whose lives all seem to revolve around their roles in the government. When Beth and Matt are introduced to a White House staffer and his wife, the couples become fast friends and bond over common interests, with politics and competition looming close by.

Perhaps I’m missing out on a corner of the literary world, but I feel like there aren’t many books focused on the unique challenge of making and keeping friends as a couple, particularly in a new place. Close really hones in on that and teases out the things that can make it so difficult, including the snarky gossip that goes on between couples themselves. Regardless of where you live or the work you do, there’s something familiar in that sour bite of envy.

The Hopefuls is stronger in the first half, as it falls into some predictable plot lines near the end, but it’s an absorbing read just perfect for a bit of necessary escape.

  • Oookkkaaaayyy, going to put this on hold at the library. And YES, why is it so hard to make and keep friends as adults… and as a couple. The Hubs and I are talking seriously about moving (again!) but one thing holding me back is having to find and make a whole new group of friends and support network. I know we can do it, but…….

    • It can be really hard, especially as a couple I think. I feel like it’s a little easier to find people at work or one-on-one, but trickier in pairs.

  • Susan W

    There is something about that cover that I just love! Glad to hear the inside is good too, sounds like a perfect ‘summer read’. I haven’t read her previous books, I wonder how this compares?

    • It really is perfect for summer! I haven’t read anything else either, but have heard good things about Girls in White Dresses.

  • I enjoyed the samples I read last week from my online book club and added this one to my library wish list. I didn’t put a hold on it because I know I won’t have time to read it anytime soon, but you make me want to, now. This might be that next great recovery book for me. I’m with you on there not being many books out there that focuses on making new friends and keeping them. Or, there’re none that I’ve read, anyway.

    • I think it would be a good one to read with a group – I’d be curious how different people read the different characters and their motivations. But it’s definitely good for a quick recovery read, too!

  • RK

    Thanks for your review! This is in my TBR as well.

  • I have this one on my kindle and I’m looking forward to it. I tend to like light reads like this or suspense crime thrillers when I’m in a reading rut. Sometimes you just need something fun to get you to the next substantial read. Plus, they tend to be relatable in so many ways. Glad you enjoyed it :)

    • It definitely worked that way for me this time! It was good for a quick weekend read between some heavy stuff.

  • I do love that cover art, but this sounds just a tish predictable. That said, I am making the move to DC with my husband, so maybe it’ll provide some inspiration/warning?

    • I think if I read books like this all the time I may be bothered by it, but it wasn’t too much. It definitely captures DC well and really addresses what it’s like to move there, so it could be perfect for that.

      • Yeah. I remember reading a random book when I first moved to DC originally about a 20-something who moved to the city and worked through a bunch of hill staffers in short term relationships. I can’t imagine wanting to read that again, but at the time it was a fun read.

  • I’ve been gravitating towards lighter reads all summer long, so I’m glad to hear this one is good fun! I downloaded the sample and hope to get to it soon.

  • I do agree with you about the first half being stronger. But I forgive the book for that since I was really caught up in the relationship dynamics at play. I agree that there aren’t enough books about these kinds of couple friendships and they make for good reading! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Yeah, the friendship thing was what kept me going, too. I was kind of annoyed that she took the characters there (because it seemed like something she avoided really well otherwise), but it turned back quickly enough.

  • This sounds pretty perfect for the kind of reading that my brain is feeling right now. The challenge of couple friendships is really hard — it’s one of the things I’m nervous about with the move we’re making.

    • It’s definitely perfect for breezy reading and there are a ton of section breaks, so it makes picking up/putting down really easy!

  • Do the couples do infidelity? Is that one of the predictable plotlines? Cause I do not care for adultery in books. It stresses me out horribly.

    If not, I’m totally into this. I don’t think there are many books that deal with making friends in adulthood at all, honestly! And I want to. Making friends in adulthood has been occupying my mind quite a bit lately.

    • (Spoilers!!!)

      It stresses me out, too, and it also annoys me that fictional couples can’t seem to just be friends without something happening between opposite pairs, so I was really excited when there weren’t any hints at that. But…yes, it ends up happening toward the very end, and it was a bit of a bummer for me.

      • Amanda

        bah! I’m glad you asked Jenny! I agree – making new friends as an adult and particularly couples would be something I’d love to read more of. I will keep this on my list to get at the library but I won’t bump off something else for it quite yet

      • UGH. Add me to the group of people who get stressed out by literary infidelity. Not sure if that’s some kind of larger commentary on my character, but whatever. Such a bummer that it didn’t just focus on the friendships instead! I’m in total agreement with you on books not focusing enough on making friends as adults, particularly as coupled adults.

        Regardless, I’m glad you found some escape in this one. We all need it these days, I think.

        • I hadn’t really realized how rare it is to read about until running into it here – kind of makes me wonder if there are any really great examples.

  • I love the cover! Read the spoiler below, and that’s too bad (gets on my nerves, too). But I still think I’ll pick this up when I want a lighter read. :)

  • This landed just in time, Shannon! I’ve been interested in reading this one and, advantageously, I’ve just finished (literally – minutes ago) a book and I’m trying to decide what to pick up next but do not want to feel bogged down by anything too meaty/heavy this weekend. Thank you!!

  • So glad to hear others are bothered by infidelity! Thank you! That makes me feel a bit better. With that said, Circling the Sun was an amazing read, IMHO, but…the “happy” couples were those who were with someone OTHER than their spouse. Granted some of those were unhappy, too, but usually because they were still married to someone else! What?!? Yep! It even took a bit for me to properly match those who were married, since so much of the book concentrated on the unmarried pairings! Yikes! Okay…so this is on my TBR list, though it’s not real high up there… :) Glad you enjoyed it however. It is interesting about relationships between/among couples.

  • I just moved to San Jose to join my husband, who has been here for about a year, and we’ve both been lamenting the fact that we were just starting to make some really good friends in NY. This sounds like the perfect book to read while going through this transition!