One of People magazine’s Great Beach Reads: “This novel about a striving, upscale California family is a bracing entertainment that zeroes in on the modern pressures put on teens–and their folks.”
The Admissions brilliantly captures the frazzled pressure cooker of modern life as a seemingly perfect family comes undone by a few desperate measures, long-buried secrets—and college applications!
Today’s review is another book from the BookSparks’ Fall Reading Challenge I joined this year. You’re probably tired of hearing this, but here’s the story: I was able to skip the “freshman” year (last year’s challenge) and jump right into the “sophomore” year for this year’s challenge, I’m now on the BookSparks “class” called Sociology 101 Studies in the Women’s Fiction Department (which I know you figured out means this book).
The Admissions takes place in Mill Valley, California, just north of San Francisco, where the frazzled Hawthorne family reside. Gabe is a business consultant and Nora is a high-powered realtor. They have three daughters, Angela, Cecily and Maya. Their oldest daughter, Angela, is on a mission to get into Harvard on early admission. She’s a chronic over-achiever and a straight-A student who is trying to follow in her father, Gabe’s footsteps as a Harvard alumnus. While Nora is trying to handle difficult real estate clients, Gabe is dealing with a huge secret that he’s attempting to keep shuttered. Meanwhile, Cecily, who is ten, has her own internal battle: she makes a mistake during an Irish dance competition and dancing is what she loves – one simple fall changes it all. Then there’s the second grader, Maya, who still can’t read. Nora fears that Maya’s inability to read stems from something that happened when Maya was a baby.
While written in a form of ever changing point of views, the book still managed to propel the story forward and it was easy to follow along and flowed well. It was hard to put this book down once I got started, as I wanted to know more and more about this family as they begin to unravel at the seams.
Throughout the story, the Hawthornes’ lives are just spiraling out of control. Their everyday lives have gotten so complicated that they all seem to simultaneously lose themselves and their focus, while failing to continue functioning as a family. No one seems to see the stress that the other family members are under, as they drown in their own, until it all comes to a head. The secrets just kept piling up on top of each other. Everyone’s truths and everyone’s secrets were gradually exposed.
The author defines the characters well, and she makes it clear that there is love between them in spite of their frazzled lives. While mom and dad (Nora and Gabe) don’t seem to be the most attentive of parents, it is obvious to readers that they do want the best for their children and they want them to be happy.
Meg Mitchell Moore has very realistically captured the high pressure lifestyle the world today. I’m certain her empathy and realism are why this book will resonate with many readers. Readers will identify with the work challenges, school pressures, and competition between siblings at home, school, or work, and other family conflict. While I’m sure this book will hit home for many readers, it is also very enjoyable, easy to read, and thought provoking as well.
Meg Mitchell Moore began writing as soon as she figured out how the cursive ‘T’ and ‘F’ were different and hasn’t stopped since. Her debut novel, The Arrivals, was published in 2011 by Reagan Arthur Books, then an imprint of Little, Brown. Her second novel, So Far Away, was published in 2012 and was named one of the year’s best adult novels for young adults by Booklist. Her third novel, The Admissions, is due out in August 2015 from Doubleday. Before turning to fiction Meg worked as a freelance journalist for a variety of business and consumer magazines, where she often managed to pitch stories involving dogs. Before that she worked on the staff of a family of technology magazines. (Despite all of her time there, she is still trying to figure out what a server is.) Meg received a B.A. from Providence College and a master’s degree in English Literature from New York University. The daughter of a Naval officer, Meg moved around every few years as a child, including a move her senior year of high school, which she is totally and completely over. Totally and completely: no scars. In 2012 Meg, her husband, their three children and a beloved border collie moved from Massachusetts to northern California.Despite California’s many charms (including the settings that inspired much of The Admissions), they lasted exactly one year and returned to the beautiful coastal town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, where they now live with a new puppy, a lot of laundry and a good amount of laughs. The characters in The Admissions have many juicy secrets, but Meg’s own secrets are not so newsworthy. (Or are they?)
I received a complimentary hardbound copy of this book from the publishers and BookSparks in exchange for this post, which is my honest review and unbiased opinion.