Thank You to Atria Books for providing me with an advanced copy of Amy Poeppel's novel, Small Admissions, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT - Kate Pearson's life is a mess. Her French boyfriend, who happens to be the cousin of one of her best friends, Chloe, has dumped her, and is dating Kate's other best friend, Vicki. They give a minimal effort to keep their relationship a secret. Although graduating at the top of her class from a prestigious university, Kate is crushed when she is fired from her job working in an Anthropology laboratory. Kate is at a loss. Rather than regroup, she becomes a couch potato. Her life begins to turn around, when her sister, Angela, recommends her for a job in the admissions department at the prestigious Hudson Day School. Can Kate shift gears and handle the stress of interviewing ambitious kids and their even more ambitious parents? How will Kate's new job affect the other aspects of her life, including letting go of her French boyfriend, and figuring out the drama surrounding her female friendships?
LIKE- I liked the concept of Small Admissions and was most interested in inner-workings of the admissions department at this prestigious school. Poeppel formerly held a position in an admissions department at a school much like the fictitious Hudson Day School, so bringing her experience to her novel, was a huge factor in my eagerness to read Small Admissions. I like stories with an insiders perspective. It was pitched as this look into another world, which it sort of was, although the story far more centered around Kate's relationships, than it did her new job.
I found the letters and interactions with the kids and parents to often be hilarious. Small Admissions has a fair bit of comedy, with the inappropriate parents, and sometimes less than qualified children. The overall theme, both with the school admissions and with Kate's life, is to not force yourself into a life in which you do not belong. It's important to find where you fit, even if it's not where your family and friends think you should be. Kate's sister, Angela, tries very hard to push Kate towards what she thinks is best and she does not listen to what Kate wants or allow for the idea of Kate needing time to discover her own path. Mistakes are okay. Their parents, who are complete free- spirits, understand their daughters, and although they are busy traveling the globe, they dispense advice. They are seen as flighty, which makes Angela ( and me, as the reader), brush aside their advice, until the end of the story, when you realize that they are perceptive and wise.
DISLIKE- Small Admissions suffers from too much going on. I found it overwhelming and difficult to track what was most important, not truly seeing the over-arching vision for the story until the very end. I felt like I was missing the road-markers and it's not like this story is a mystery. It does all come together in the very end, however, I wish there had been a greater focus on Kate's career, rather than the love life of all of her friends. Chloe, Vicki, and Angela's stories took on too much weight in the Small Admissions, stealing the focus from Kate.
RECOMMEND- Maybe. Small Admissions is a good story, but not a great story. It would be a solid pick for a flight or beach vacation. I'd love to read Poeppel's non-fiction take on school admissions.