People’s Book of the Week
“Perfect for fans of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep.”—Booklist
Top 6 Books You Need to Read—BuzzFeed
Best Books to Give Every Book Lover on Your List—Town & Country
In this witty, hilarious, and entertaining novel that’s “The Devil Wears Prada meets Primates of Park Avenue” (The New York Times), a young woman is unexpectedly thrust into the cutthroat world of New York City private school admissions.
Despite her innate ambition and summa cum laude smarts, Kate Pearson has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome “almost fiancé,” she abandons her plans and instead spends her days lolling on the couch, watching reruns of Sex and the City. 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, Kate manages to land a job in the admissions department at the revered Hudson Day School. In her new position Kate learns there’s no time for self-pity or nonsense during the thick 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. Through a comical and crazy run of wildly unpredictable interviews, subtle bribes, outright threats, final judgments, and page-turning twists, the highly competitive and occasionally absurd world of private school admissions is brought to light in all of its outrageous glory that is reminiscent of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep.
The focus in Poeppel's quick-witted debut novel is on elite private school admissions. Kate Pearson is a sharp yet aimless young woman a couple of years out of Wellesley, struggling to recover from a disastrous breakup. Her helicopter sister, Angela, gets her a job interview, which is a comical nightmare for Kate and her prospective boss. Surprisingly to both of them he hires her to be in charge of admissions at Manhattan's prestigious Hudson Day School. Poeppel's novel follows Kate's journey from hot mess to self-actualizing grown-up, while detailing the campaigns for admission of a small group of students and their families. Some rise to the challenge, but one fails miserably. The novel is also about friendship and family, and the author gently satirizes hippie academics through Kate's parents, whose nontraditional take on child rearing contributed in no small part to Angela's tightly wound demeanor. Rounding out the cast are Kate's two best friends: Chloe, who goes to extreme, humorous lengths to find Kate a boyfriend, and Vicki, who tries to manipulate the situation to her advantage. With so many strong personalities and disparate threads, Kate and her story might easily have gotten lost, but the author, like a circus ringmaster, points attention here and there, always bringing it back to the center. An excellent debut.