Title: Small Admissions
Author: Amy Poeppel
Publication Date: December 27, 2016
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Women's Fiction
For fans of The Nanny Diaries and Sophie Kinsella comes a whip-smart and deliciously funny debut novel about Kate, a young woman unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat world of New York City private school admissions as she attempts to understand city life, human nature, and falling in love. Despite her innate ambition and Summa Cum Laude smarts, Kate Pearson has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome, French “almost fiancé,” she abandons her grad school plans and instead spends her days lolling on the couch, watching reruns of Sex and the City, and leaving her apartment only when a dog-walking gig demands it. Her friends don’t know what to do other than pass tissues and hope for a comeback, while her practical sister, Angela, pushes every remedy she can think of, from trapeze class to therapy to job interviews. Miraculously, and for reasons no one (least of all Kate) understands, she manages to land a job in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. In her new position, Kate learns there’s no time for self-pity or nonsense during the height of the admissions season, or what her colleagues refer to as “the dark time.” As the process revs up, Kate meets smart kids who are unlikable, likeable kids who aren’t very smart, and Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer. Meanwhile, Kate’s sister and her closest friends find themselves keeping secrets, hiding boyfriends, dropping bombshells, and fighting each other on how to keep Kate on her feet. On top of it all, her cranky, oddly charming, and irritatingly handsome downstairs neighbor is more than he seems. Through every dishy, page-turning twist, it seems that one person’s happiness leads to another’s misfortune, and suddenly everyone, including Kate, is looking for a way to turn rejection on its head, using any means necessary—including the truly unexpected.
This book pulls the reader into the fascinating world of private schools for the young and ambitious in cutthroat New York City. They are the schools that almost guarantee an Ivy League path for college, thus promising a ton of other opportunities and possibilities as an adult. And I can only imagine that it is a vicious cycle, where the kids also become the future neurotic parents of their own children and fight to the death with these admission advisers to secure a spot.
The story is told from multiple perspectives which threw me off at first but which I started to like towards the 20% mark. And it may have changed in the finished copies, but my ARC did not have chapter headings. So, you'd have to read a few lines to know whose perspective the focus was on. But the author does an amazing job at distinguishing between all: including the voice, characterization, etc. that once I got to know the characters and their backstory, the non-headings no longer bothered me.
Kate is mourning the death of her relationship. And as much drama that exists in the prep school world, so the same exists in Kate's world. And the unique part of this story was that it's told from multiple points of view, including her sister, her two college friends, and a mother working on getting her son accepted into Hudson Day School, a school that hires Kate despite her horrendous interviewing skills. I laughed so much - especially at certain parts when you start to realize that everyone keeps their own blend of secrets for both self-preservation purposes and to keep the peace.
And what was also a breath of fresh air was that this story, at its core, is about female friendships. What makes us tick, what keeps us together, and what eventually tears us apart. Because it's like any other relationship and how we change with it is key. Yes, there's a romantic relationship but it is not the main focus of the book, a nice change of pace in a story that centers around a protagonist in her twenties.
And I know I said this already but this book is really, really funny and I can't say that for many books. I highly recommend Small Admissions to anyone looking for a fun, contemporary read, with women at the center experiencing the pangs and pains from graduating college, moving to the suburbs, suffering from heartaches, and just overall "real life issues." Amy Poeppel handled her debut quite nicely and I look forward to reading more from her! Thank you to Atria for letting us read, review, and offer an amazing giveaway.
Amy Poeppel is a graduate of Wellesley College. She lives with her husband and three sons in New York City, where she worked in the admissions department of a prestigious independent school. She workshopped a theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into this novel.
Twitter: @AmyPoeppelInstagram: @AmyPoeppel
A Signed Copy of Small Admissions
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