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.
Today’s book is one from the Booksparks 2016 Fall Reading Challenge, of which I have honored to be included. Today’s book is from the December list and the “Course Title” for this book is “Keeping Up Appearances 101”, and the Department is “Women’s Fiction Studies”.
Kate Pearson’s life is a hot mess. Her boyfriend – almost fiance’ and French and who happens to be the cousin of one of her best friends, Chloe – dumped her. Not only did he dump Kate, but he’s now dating her other best friend, Vicki, and they’re not even trying to hide it very well…….and just in case being dumped wasn’t bad enough, Kate is fired from her anthropology laboratory job despite graduating at the top of her class from a prestigious university. This puts Kate over the edge and she resolves to have an intimate relationship with her couch and her sweatpants.
Her “wrapped-way-too-tight” sister, Angela, recommends Kate for a job at Hudson Day School. Much to everyone’s surprise, Kate actually gets the job and has to pull herself together and get her life in order. It is admissions season and Kate doesn’t have time to wallow in her self-pity anymore; she has to get busy at work. It is here where the story provides readers with a bird’s eye view of the world of private school admissions in New York City – I had no idea how serious that whole scene was!
I really enjoyed the author’s use of inserting various letters throughout the book to break up the chapters. The letters allowed readers to see the perspectives of the various characters without interrupting anything in the story. I especially loved the string of letters from various characters to various characters that the author used farther in the book back to back. It was interesting to get each character’s view of the candidate selection process at the school as well as the lives of the applicants and their parents.
I found the storytelling to be very interesting in this book, making it very believable and fun. I loved the author’s dry humor and I could definitely relate to some of the characters as being people I have been around in my lifetime thanks to their being so developed in this book. Overall, this isn’t your standard chick lit where the main plot is the main character looking for love. I mean, there’s romance sprinkled in the book, but it’s not what the story is all about. I’d say it was more about relationships – both with friends, co-workers and family. Small Admissions was very surprisingly funny to me – probably the dry humor aspect coming to light.
Who is Amy Poeppel?
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.
I received a complimentary paperback copy of this book from the publishers and BookSparks as part of the Fall Reading Challenge 2016 (#FRC2016) in exchange for this post.