We gave it an A-
Ali Smith plays head games with readers just as Amber, her sphinxlike central character, plays games with the barely functioning Smart family in this saucy novel about contemporary spiritual ills. A drifter and liar, Amber turns up on the Smarts’ doorstep claiming car trouble one summer morning; she finds Eve Smart battling writer’s block in the back shed, her smug professor husband plotting the seduction of yet another student, and their two children wallowing in adolescent angst. Like a nasty fairy godmother, Amber brings each character what he or she needs, from sexual healing to a kick in the pants. While The Accidental doesn’t add up to much more than a clever stunt, Smith pulls it off with terrific pizzazz.