The Smash-Up

A Novel

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A marriage spirals out of control when the issues of our day—cultural, political, and social—become intensely personal in this fresh, whip-smart novel for readers of Meg Wolitzer and Fleishman Is in Trouble
“A fun, timely novel that’s unexpectedly full of hope.”—People

It’s September 2018. In Washington, D.C.,—and in cities and towns across America—women have taken to the streets to protest a Supreme Court nominee. And in Starkfield, Massachusetts—a sleepy rural town where nothing much ever happens—Ethan Frome’s otherwise quiet life has turned upside down.

Ethan’s wife, Zo, is so enraged by the national political scene that she’s transformed their home into a local headquarters for the Resistance. His college roommate and former business partner faces #metoo allegations, sending Ethan into increasingly desperate financial straits. His unruly, headstrong daughter, Alex, grows more challenging by the day.

Enter Maddy Silver—a breezy, blue-haired millennial making her way through the gig economy. Suddenly Ethan and Zo must question everything: their past, their future, their marriage, and what they value most. And all the while, a world-rocking cultural smash-up inches ever closer to home.

Inspired by a classic Edith Wharton novella about a strained marriage in a small town, The Smash-Up is at once an intimate, moving portrait of a family in distress, a vivid examination of our roiling national rancor, and a powerful exploration of how the things we fail to notice can shatter a family, a community, and a nation.

Under the Cover

An excerpt from The Smash-Up

“What happened?

Everyone asked the question, had been asking for over a year. They asked while watching the news, that shitstorm of headlines, jump-cut footage of marches and speeches and hand-Sharpied cardboard, an endless swirling blizzard — a siege, really — of protests and counter-protests, action and reaction, people screaming at each other in the street, neighbor vs. neighbor, friend vs. friend. (Or too often: friends no more. We were in new territory. People were learning they had limits).

What happened?  Reporters asked it in small-town diners over $7.50 lunch specials, BLTs cut into neat triangles, Heinz bottles perched like microphones on scratched formica tables.

What happened? People asked each other in church basements, community centers, gyms, coffee shops, living rooms where they came together to weep, process, scribble on postcards, plan the revolution.

What happened? Parents snapped off NPR mid-story, not wanting to answer questions from the backseat. College students climbed flagpoles, ripped down stars and bars. A giant inflatable chicken appeared behind the White House lawn, some sort of protest that no one entirely understood. Everything was some sort of protest now.

- About the author -

Ali Benjamin is the author of the young adult novel The Thing About Jellyfish, an international bestseller and a National Book Award finalist. Her The Next Great Paulie Fink was named a top children’s book of the year by Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, the New York Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library. Her work has been published in more than twenty-five languages in more than thirty countries. Originally from the New York City area, she now lives in Massachusetts. This is her first adult novel.

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The Smash-Up

A Novel


The Smash-Up

— Published by Random House —