Expected publication: December 27th 2016 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Format read: ARC via publisher
Miraculously, one cringe-worthy job interview leads to a position in the admissions department at the revered Hudson Day School. Kate’s instantly thrown into a highly competitive and occasionally absurd culture, where she interviews all types of children: suitable, wildly unsuitable, charming, loathsome, ingratiating, or spoiled beyond all measure. And then there are the Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.
As Kate begins to learn there’s no room for self-pity or nonsense during the height of admissions season or life itself, her sister and friends find themselves keeping secrets, dropping bombshells, and arguing with each other about how to keep Kate on her feet. Meanwhile, Kate seems to be doing very nicely, thank you, and is even beginning to find out that her broken heart is very much on the mend. Welcome to the world of Small Admissions.
Such was the case with Small Admissions. I was initially attracted to the book because of the reference to Sophie Kinsella, but after the book, I actually think the Kinsella comparsion isn't quite apt. Because Small Admissions is actually a thoughtful, relatable book for any millennial who has struggled to find their potential and self-worth.
(Not that Kinsella's writing can't be all of those things, but I don't think Becky's having, or ever had moments of clarity like Kate.)
Kate is basically one of a classic millennial: she's brillant and well-educated, but has struggled to find her place in the world, especially after ending her relationship. So when she's given the opportunity to work admissions at a day school, she reluctantly agrees. Surprisingly, she finds her stride...
What makes Small Admissions so different than say, a Kinsella novel, is the fact that Kate unavoidably has the aura of failure around her, at first. She's barely able to function as an adult, and it's easy to see why her family is so determined to micromanage her into living again.
But once she does start getting into her stride - even as ridiculous as some of the parents at the school may be - we see Kate coming into her own. She's thoughtful, determined and has a zest that works so surprisingly well for the school.
More importantly, she's also exemplifying the resilience of the milinneial. Even though Kate has clearly spent a good chunk of her academic career training for a different life, Poeppl brilliantly shows how she applies those previously developed skills to her new job. It's a reminder of how many people there are like her in our real day-to-day world, and it's a graceful nod to the idea of a generation who has had to adapt against unrelenting, unfriendly odds.
Though the book ends just as you would expect, watching Kate's growth is a graceful, inspiring journey.