Don’t Book Back // The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

last read…

I read Jennifer Close’s The Hopefuls at the end of last summer while lounging around the pool in Barcelona during my honeymoon. The perfect read for the occasion, it was easily digestible between two days.

Particularly in the second half of the book, I found the protagonist to be deliciously despicable to follow, much like Jennifer Close’s three principle protagonists in Girls in White Dresses. (Do not bother reading it. I hated nearly all of the characters, as did many other a book reviewer, and the lack of resolution left me unsatisfied.)

I tend to love books which are set in Washington DC. I like to measure them against my reality meter, especially if they are to take place against a particular time frame, the Obama years. I spent these years living in the District and though I love my current city, I will always look back upon my time within the Beltway fondly.

  • All of the Safeways have “S” nicknames: Soviet Safeway, Senior Safeway, Shoot-em-up Safeway. I worked a block north of Georgetown’s Social Safeway. Though I never picked up anyone there, I did pick up a case of wine or two. One time after a company holiday party, I lost my shoes there while on the hunt for some TGIFriday’s frozen foods. +3
  • Motorcades do not halt the Metro. While motorcades are peak inconvenient, the Metro moves either underground or on a platform whenever it would intersect with traffic. -5
  • The characters dine at Cork. Cork was one of my favorite restaurant bars on 14th Street before 14th Street became the tony neighborhood it is these days. It used to be scary to make the scamper from car to Cork and this was a solid three years before Uber or Lyft became de rigeur. Later to be referred to as sketchy by a secondary character. +6
  • The characters also dine at La Tomate. I can picture it on the north end of Dupont Circle as clear as day. +3
  • Snowmageddon hits DC. A distinct memory from early 2010, it was the blizzard that shut down the District and effectively the federal government. The protagonist interchangeably and erroneously calls it Snowpocalypse. The latter actually happened at the end of 2009. It started on the Friday night that all coursework for all graduate programs at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Preservation, and Planning was due. To say we threw down that night during the Jersey Shore themed party would be a gross understatement. +4 / -5
  • The secondary (Texan) couple lived at Beekman Place. Good residence if you can get it, and very on brand for those particular characters as it is like suburban sprawl in the middle of a city. +2
  • Where is J Street? It does not exist. A slight by LaTrobe to a frenemy whose name started with J? Skipped due to it’s resemblance to the letter “I”? The world may never know. +4
  • Old Ebbitt’s Grill is a DC institution, but I have never needed reservations to get a table right away there. Orca platter all the effing way! +2
  • The golden boy character orders a DC Brau. It was the original DC brewery. +2
  • The characters drink at American Ice. I have never been there sober. +2
  • Sweetgreen is a DC institution. Did you know that the founders went to school in Washington DC? +4
  • Even when I am in town for a mere weekend, I end up bumping into someone I know. The last time I was in town for something other than my wedding, I ran into a friend who was on her way to yoga, while my husband / then-boyfriend and I were on the way to brunch. +3
  • Why did she spell St. Ex as “Saint-Ex”? Another one of my favorite bars from when 14th Street was touch and go, it can now be seen hosting strollers outside while hosting mom and dad brunchers. -1


The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

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