14 February 2017

Review #589: Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”

----Steve Maraboli

Amy Poeppel, an American author, has penned a terrific and extremely entertaining debut contemporary fiction novel, Small Admissions that revolves around a fresh young graduate, who after a messy breakup goes into the caveman zone on her couch and with her sweatpants, bags a job offer to work as an admission administrator in a posh private school, but little did this young and intelligent graduate knew that the parents and the students who come for the admission procedure would go at any lengths to just to get a mere admission in such a posh school.


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 fiancĂ©,” 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.

Kate is the prodigy child of her parents who have excelled in their field of research and are highly intellects, unfortunately she fails to follow into the footsteps of her parents, when a messy break up with a tattered heart leaves her clueless, jobless and purposeless on her couch with some sweaty pants. A worried elder sister, Angela with a perfect Manhattan lifestyle, devises a plan to get her sister, Kate up from the couch and to push her to face the reality that her sister can't forever take care of her, neither her two on-off best friends, Chloe and Vicki and that she needs to get a job to support herself financially as well as mentally. Angela's dream comes true, when Kate bags a job at an upscale New York elite private school, where Kate is appointments as the assistant director for admissions who is responsible to handle the admission procedure during its season for the middle graders. But little did Kate had any idea about the world of admissions and how much crazy the NewYorkite parents could be and how pretentious and snobbish their spoilt brats could be, and eventually Kate actually gets tangles up into the messy world of admission process that finally become fatal for her existence.

This book penned by a first time author tool me by surprise, as the story is so delectable and uproariously funny. And it would be a crime to give this book a miss, especially by those who fancy the genre of contemporary fiction. The book is so much more than just a love story or a story about three girlfriends, it is full of life, laughter and love, after all everything in this book happened for love. So love kind of played a supporting role in this book and never once losing its prime focus from the crazy drama of admissions into a private school. It is obvious that the author, who has prior experience of working in the admissions department of a private school, has depicted this unknown universe with thorough insight and vividness that the readers will be instantly drawn into its depth and will find themselves turning the pages of this book frantically.

The author's writing style is polished and laced well with humor that holds the power to crack up even a serious and no-nonsense reader. The narrative is amusing to the very core, even though the book deals with some heavy issues like abandonment and heart break, yet the dialogues never once lost it sassy charm, thereby making the story one hell of an absorbing read for its readers. The pacing is fast, with an articulate prose. As for me, the only disappointment lies in the fact that the good ol' New Yorkite charm and aura is missing from the story line, thus I failed to capture the back drop of the story that paints a faint and dull portrait of the city of the Big Apple.

The characters are well developed, but there are few handful of characters who actually stole the show, namely Kate and her colleagues and the quirky and the weird lot of money-minded parents and their equally haughty kids. Kate is charming, initially she comes across as a loser and stupid with a big fat brain that she is wasting recklessly over her heartbreak. Gradually Kate matures as well as grows up quickly while adapting in the relentless universe of admissions. Kate has a laid back demeanor but her dedication towards her job makes her an inspiring character, who is bit challenging to handle yet very thoughtful.

Unfortunately her friends, Chloe, who is secretive about her love life yet protective about Kate and Vicki, who is extremely ambitious and hates Kate from her very core, aren't well portrayed through their differences and the readers might feel a bit disappointed as they could have made the story one notch sassier. Angela comes across as someone bossy yet emotional and loving towards her younger sister, but then again her life story could have been developed with more depth.

In a nutshell, the story is brilliantly hilarious and a must read for all those who enjoy a light hearted chick lit drama with lots of edge, unpredictable plot twists yet full of clichés.

Verdict: Riveting, sassy, dramatic and vivacious chick-lit.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Amy Poeppel for giving me the opportunity to read and review her book.

Author Info:
Amy Poeppel is a graduate of Wellesley College. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she lives with her husband and three sons in New York City, where she worked in the admissions department of an independent school. She workshopped a theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into a novel.
Visit her here

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