☆☆➹⁀☆ 2.5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆
What it’s about:
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.
Book trailer: YouTube
The premise of Amy Poeppel’s Small Admissions grabbed me, however, the story itself did little for me. I found the start of the book confusing disjointed, so “we” got off on the wrong foot.
Small Admissions features yet another recent college graduate who is disenfranchised when she isn’t handed the life she wants on a silver platter. Instead of moving forward with a plan B and harder work, Kate Pearson wallows in self pity until her sister, Amy, finds her a job.
The characters are rather one dimensional and mostly dislikable. When they aren’t busy complaining, they’re busily stabbing one another in the back. Clearly, main character Kate can add “judge of character” to her self-improvement list. I did enjoy the fabulously dysfunctional and highly over-achieving parents whom Kate interviews as part of the admissions process to the coveted Hudson Day School. Juxtapose their very normal progeny with the parents’ descriptions of their the achievements and attributes of their 12-year-olds-who-could-rule-the-world, and you’ve got some entertainment.
I’m still enamored with the premise of the story, but I couldn’t relate to any characters or their behavior/life choices. I was hoping for a laugh-out-loud comedic tale, but it was too filled with negativity for me. I didn’t find the snark funny or pithy. Overall, Small Admissions was not a spectacularly good read that I could highly recommend.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 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.