"You're making how much an hour"
"Two hundred dollars."
"Do you ride in on a pony"
All she wants to do is teach. For Anna Taggert, an earnest Ivy League graduate, pursuing her passion as a teacher means engaging young hearts and minds. She longs to be in a place where she can be her best self, and give that best to her students. Turns out it isn't that easy.
Landing a job at an elite private school in Manhattan, Anna finds her dreams of chalk boards and lesson plans replaced with board families, learning specialists, and benefit-planning mothers. Not to mention the grim realities of her small paycheck.
And then comes the realization that the papers she grades are not the work of her students, but of their high-priced, college-educated tutors. After uncovering this underground economy where a teacher can make the same hourly rate as a Manhattan attorney, Anna herself is seduced by lucrative offers -- one after another. Teacher by day, tutor by night, she starts to sample the good life her students enjoy: binges at Barneys, dinners at the Waverly Inn, and a new address on Madison Avenue. Until, that is, the truth sets in.
Lakhani paints a darkly comic picture of what a five-figure tuition bill really gets you at an elite Manhattan private school. The former Dalton English teacher knows the territory, and it is bleak. Here's Anna, a newbie teacher with Ivy credentials whose passion for the low-paying teaching profession is cause for celebration at the upper-crust Langdon school, where as the exotic-looking newcomer, she is mistakenly identified as a coveted minority hire. With low pay and even lower expectations from teachers and parents, Anna realizes there's no way she can survive until she learns about lucrative after-school tutoring gigs. And just like that, Anna's ideals go out the window. In a hilarious out-of-control spiral into obsession with all-things designer, expensive and showy, Anna transforms into someone who believes money can buy everything and everyone. There is redemption, of course, in the form of a teacher who bucks the system, and Anna discovers some of her students are pretty wonderful. The realization comes rather abruptly, and the happy ending is a bit pat, but the romp through an unsettling, soulless world of adults and children who'd rather coast through life than live it provides plenty of laughs.