Review: “Relationship Smarts” by Joyce Markovics

Relationship Smarts: How to Navigate Dating, Friendships, Family Relationships, and More by Joyce Markovics is an up-to-date, modern self-help book with the latest statistics relevant to its subject.  In a nutshell, the author and contributors try to outline how to begin, renew, and/or strengthen relationships, whether they are related to family, friendship, or romance.  After launching short discourses about the importance of maintaining family bonds and normal friendships, Relationship Smarts proceeds slowly to the examination of romance and making connections work.

However, the main problem with Relationship Smarts is that it is not very distinctive or remarkable.  Most of the information spread around the actual advice listed in this short guide has already been said and written before.  Even if originality in a self-help reference book is factored out altogether, the tacky, patronizing voice of the author trying so desperately to communicate with a teenage and young adult audience eliminates any chance for Relationship Smarts to be really taken seriously.  Moreover, the author quickly jumps from topic to topic and controversial issue to non-controversial issue with very little expansion.

For example, homosexuality is almost not discussed at all, but abuse and sexuality are explored more thoroughly than any other subjects in the guide.  There is no logical equilibrium, so to speak, between the amounts of attention given to all the issues included in the text.  Furthermore, most of the practical tips cemented in Relationship Smarts are basic common sense reiterated.  The necessary presence of mutual loyalty, respect, communication, support, and self-confidence in friendships and romantic relationships in everyday life’s inter-connections is elementary knowledge.  Although the focus of this guide is to improve people’s expectations and actions toward others, Relationship Smarts doesn’t even succeed halfway toward its own goal to be an informative and helpful reference book.

Original review: Unoriginal advice and a condescending tone make this teen guide not very smart,


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