SMALL ADMISSIONS by Amy Poeppel
Atria Hardcover | ISBN: 9781501122521 | On sale: December 27, 2016 | 368 pages | $26.00
eBook: Atria | ISBN: 9781501122545 | On sale: December 27, 2016 | 368 pages | $13.99
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 admissionsdepartment 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.
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.
PRAISE FOR SMALL ADMISSIONS:
“An excellent debut.”
“Trenchant, funny, and observant...as a prose artist Ms. Poeppel leaves nothing to be desired, except this desire: that she write more and more, and as well as she does in this, her assured debut.”
—Hilton Als, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of White Girls and The Women
"In this absorbing story, Amy Poeppel brings her razor-sharp observations of the postures and pretenses found in our culture, in our cities,and especially in the world of admissions. Amy’s gift for dialogue, shown through the sidesplitting banter between our appealing, young heroine and the parents and children she interviews, will delight readers. Amy Poeppel displays a well of insight, forgiveness and wit that not only marks a talented writer, but the launch of what promises to be a marvelous career.”
—Diane Meier, author of The Seasons of Chances and Ritual and Style on a Changing Culture
“Amy Poeppel's writing is the perfect mixture of hilarious and smart... She absolutely nails the world of admissionsin a funny, insightful and fabulous insider's look at this fascinating microcosm of human nature. What a delicious read."
—Lolly Winston, author of Good Grief and Happiness Sold Separately
“Inside every application folder is a story, and it is the job of the admissions officer to find and make sense of those narratives. Amy Poeppel’s darkly funny debut animates and exposes, with empathy and perspicacity, the anxiety, the humanity,and the occasionally surreal stories within New York City’s intense, competitive independent schools. And on top of all that, it is a wonderfully entertaining read.”
—Kristin Harman, Head of Admissions, Trevor Day School
“As Jean Hanff Korelitz did for college in her novel Admission, Amy Poeppel artfully and hilariously describes the gamesmanship in the high-stakes, high-anxiety world of New York City’s private school admissions offices with spot-on dialogue and genuine insight. As the novel unfolds, the reader finds that Small Admissions lead to bigger, more important truths in the lives of the characters populating this hilarious book; I couldn’t put it down.”
—David Harman, Headmaster, Poly Prep Country Day School
“A rare book that actually makes you laugh out loud. Small Admissions offers a peek into the world of New York City private school admissions, but the deadly insights hardly stop there. Family, friendships,meetings(!)—
Poeppel tells gleaming, hilarious truths about them all.”
—Charity Shumway, author of Ten Girls to Watch
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.