I’m so happy to be a stop today on the Blog Tour for Amy Poeppel’s entertaining debut novel Small Admissions, published December 27th by Atria Books
From the Publisher
In SMALL ADMISSIONS, despite Kate Pearson’s innate ambition and Summa Cum Laude smarts, she has turned into a major slacker. After being unceremoniously dumped by her handsome, French “almost fiancé,” 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.
When we first meet Kate, she is living in a depressed limbo as a result of being recently dumped by her French boyfriend Robert. Not only is she depressed and unemployed, she’s also been crashing at her sister Angela’s who’d really like her to find her own place ASAP. You see, Angela has went into hyperactive helicopter mode, trying in vain and to no avail, to “snap” Kate out of her funk. To top it all off, their parents, being hippie academics, have decided to skip town and take an elongated sabbatical “living in the field.” Kate’s good friend Chloe and supposed good friend Vicki seem to be currently on the sidelines, with Chloe trying to (secretly) scout out a new man for Kate, and Vicki working through her underlying hostility towards Kate surrounding her breakup with Robert. Question is, why is she so hostile?
After a very cringeworthy, albeit pretty amusing interview with the head of Hudson, a private school in Manhattan, Kate somehow manages to secure a position as an assistant of admissions. It’s through this position that Kate begins to slowly put her life back together. At the Hudson school, we meet Henry who runs the school and Maureen who helps with Admissions. Kate’s interactions with both Maureen and Henry were some of my favorite in the whole book! I loved Maureen and thought Poeppel did a fantastic job bringing her character to life with her sarcastic , yet witty conversations with Kate.
Through Kate’s job at the Hudson school, we are treated to some fascinating (in ways both good and bad) kids and their crazy parents, all trying to gain admission with resumes that would make most adults exhausted. I thought Kate’s interviews with the students were some of the funniest parts of the book, mainly because she was usually completely inappropriate, veering into her personal life and asking the kids what they thought about her breakup. What?? Her write ups of the students also made me laugh. I actually wish we could’ve had MORE scenes between Kate and the students and parents as I imagine the author, having worked in private school admissions in NYC, had more stories up her sleeve.
The narrative structure of the novel centers on shifting perspectives, allowing us to hear from Chloe, Angela ,Vicki, and Kate at different times throughout the book. Overall, this technique worked for me, although I’m not sure I needed all the extraneous details about the parents in the beginning. There’s also an interlude in the middle of the novel where letters between different characters are going back and forth, and I have to say, I found that technique unnecessary and slightly confusing. In the end, I most enjoyed Kate’s perspective and watching her grow from being a pouting slacker who let a jerk of a man disrupt her life so completely to a confident, independent, happy woman. Is there a possible new love interest you ask? You’ll just have to read the book to find out.
There was a lot that worked for me in this debut novel: the dialogue was top notch and realistic; the overall pace minus the letters; strong, well-developed characters with Kate, Henry, and Maureen getting my “favorites” vote, and the ending, while somewhat predictable, fit with the story. If you like chick-lit/women’s fiction I think you’ll enjoy this entertaining debut by Amy Poeppel. I look forward to reading whatever Amy sends our way in the future! Check out additional info, book trailer, Rafflecopter giveaway , and buying sites below
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amy Poeppel is a graduate of Wellesley College. She lives with her husband and three sons in New York City, where she worked in the admissions department of a prestigious independent school. She workshopped a theatrical version of SMALL ADMISSIONS at the Actors Studio Playwrights/Directors Unit. She later expanded it into this novel.
Amy began writing SMALL ADMISSIONS as a series of comedic dialogues after she and her husband went through the nerve-wrecking experience of interviewing at private schools for their sons. “I was convinced we were spectacularly bad at it,” she explains, “and I couldn’t stop thinking about how strangely we seemed to behave as soon as we sat down in front of an admissions officer. Sometimes I thought my husband bragged too much about our kids, other times I thought he was overly critical of them, and throughout the interviews, I felt like I was running interference, and I hated the impression we were making.” Soon after, she began working as the Assistant Director of Admissions at a prestigious day school in Manhattan. From the other side of the desk, as she interviewed parents, interacted with student applicants and participated in the banter of the admissions staff, she developed an appreciation for the nuanced drama and the pervasive humor of admissions, compounded by her previous experiences as a nervous parent facing an admissions officer. With these dual perspectives in mind, Poeppel set out to explore the absurd world of admissions with warmth, humor and above all, a deep appreciation for devoted, anxious parents and their dedicated admissions department counterparts, all through the eyes of a clever, yet flailing young woman trying her best to make sense of the acceptance and rejections in her own life.
Find Amy Online:
- Website amypoeppel.com
- Facebook facebook.com/amypoeppelauthor
- Twitter @amypoeppel
- Instagram amypoeppel
RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY!! Click here for a chance to win your very own signed copy of Small Admissions
Click on this link to watch the humorous book trailer!