Small Admissions: A Novel

Small Admissions: A Novel

by Amy Poeppel

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Overview

Small Admissions: A Novel by Amy Poeppel

People’s Book of the Week

The Devil Wears Prada meets Primates of Park Avenue.” —The New York Times

“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 and Country

One admission can change your life...forever.

When ambitious grad student Kate Pearson’s handsome French “almost fiancé” ditches her, she definitely does not roll with the punches, despite the best efforts of family and friends. It seems that nothing will get Kate out of pajamas and back into the world.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501122538
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publication date: 07/11/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 199,373
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Amy Poeppel is the author of Limelight and Small Admissions, which was first performed as a reading at the Actors Studio. Amy has worked as a stage actress and teacher and now lives with her husband and three sons in New York City and Frankfurt, Germany.

Read an Excerpt

Small Admissions
For one whole year, we worried about Kate. We worried to her face and worried behind her back, credited her with being tough, while judging her for being pathetic. Some days we thought she was suicidal; others she seemed homicidal, or as if she had the potential, anyway, not that any of us would blame her. We didn’t know how to help. Her sister, Angela, thought she needed therapy, antidepressants, and time to heal. She prescribed hard work and weekend hobbies, like kayaking or photography. Vicki thought she needed to quit wallowing; why not enjoy life as a single woman, celebrate her independence, go out and get laid? The guy who lived below her thought she should turn her music down and leave the apartment from time to time instead of stomping around over his head all day long. The lady at the liquor store suspected she drank too much. I didn’t know what to think. We all agreed she needed to get her ass off the couch and get a life. She needed to stop wearing sweatpants and put on a little mascara, for Christ’s sake. And would it kill her to go on a date? We were tired of the whole thing. Sure, life had thrown a huge piece of shit in her face, but . . .

Actually, there was no but. Life had thrown an enormous piece of shit in Kate’s face.

Whenever the topic of Kate came up, faces got twitchy; eyes got shifty. Our friends would glance at each other and look at me with a mixture of blame and embarrassment, making it clear what they all thought but couldn’t say, at least not around me. I could imagine them whispering, after I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room:

She must feel like it’s her fault.

It was her fault.

Well, she certainly is partly to blame.

Apart from him, it was all her fault.

I know! I mean, if only she had . . .

I wonder if she feels responsible?

Yes, bitches. I feel responsible.

To me Kate was something like a figure skater, skilled and balanced one second and then, bam, she’s splayed out all over the ice the next. Music still playing, and she can’t even get up to finish the damn routine.

But before her fall, it was a different story. Skilled and balanced. I remember Kate sitting cross-legged on her bed in our dorm room, laptop open, wearing glasses and retainers, reading an assignment she’d written out loud to us:

Day 1. Sundown. I enter a community living structure after the tribe’s evening repast. I am in the midst of seven female natives, and while I believe them to be a peaceful people, I approach them cautiously, watching from a safe distance. I see them communicating with each other, using language and gestures, drinking an amber-colored beverage out of red, plastic cups, and listening to music that causes them to jerk their heads in unison. I come closer to observe their rituals and seat myself on a contraption that hosts a variety of food particles in its fibers. When I insert my hand under the cushion, I discover a handful of blackened popcorn kernels, a pair of unwashed male undergarments, and two small copper medallions. The women in the tribe see the items in my hand and begin shrieking, gesticulating, and backing away from me. I fear I have insulted these gentle humanoids by unearthing their relics from the sofa, but they are forgiving. One offers me a large vessel, into which I respectfully lower the clothing and kernels. When I start to put in the copper medallions, the female makes a gift of them to me. I will bring them home to share with my people.

Kate looked up, ready for our critique.

“I don’t get it,” Vicki said. She was sitting up in her bed with a Town & Country magazine open across her lap.

“What?” Kate asked.

“If they’re pennies,” Vicki asked, “why can’t you just say pennies?”

“I like it,” I said.

“Thank you, Chloe,” Kate answered. She was hunched over, reading through her fictional field notes again.

“I didn’t say I don’t like it,” Vicki said. “I just don’t get the point.”

“Can you tell I’m from another planet?” Kate asked.

“Totally,” I assured her.

“It’s inconsistent, if you want me to be honest,” Vicki answered. “How would an alien know what popcorn is?”

“You’re absolutely right,” Kate said, holding down the delete button. “It’s so stupid.”

“You’re a freshman,” Vicki told her. “You’re supposed to be stupid.”

“She didn’t say she was stupid,” I corrected. “She didn’t mean to say that you’re stupid, Kate.”

“It’s no good; I’m starting over again,” Kate said, closing her laptop and getting ready to go. “I’ll work in the Student Center, so I don’t keep you up.”

“We’ll hear you anyway when you come in at two o’clock,” Vicki said.

“She’ll tiptoe,” I suggested.

We had only been roommates for two months, and we had already fallen into our roles. Kate was the bookiest of us. She spent more time in the library and less time in the shower than anyone I’d ever met. Not that she smelled bad or anything. She just couldn’t be bothered. She was a scholar in the making, bingeing on nineteenth-century novels whenever she had spare time, the more passion, suspense, and drama, the better.

“You know you’re wearing pajamas,” Vicki called after her, as Kate walked out of the room.

Vicki was smart and driven in a different way. She was exceedingly practical, registered for classes only if she found them real-world applicable and down-the-road lucrative. “When would I ever use that?” she asked when I suggested we all take a history class on serfdom in the Middle Ages. She signed up for stats instead. I had to check a map when I first met her to wrap my head around where she came from: a flyover state that she had no intention of returning to. One time I walked into our dorm room to find Vicki looking through Kate’s dresser drawers. Without thinking, I apologized to her.

And who was I? Among other things, my role in our clique was keeper of the peace. I held us together. For four years I bridged the gap, and it wasn’t easy. I was the one who made sure we were always assigned to the same dorm, with rooms on the same hall. I was the one who made plans (Friday-night cocktails and weekend getaways) and posed us in pictures, dressed up or dressed down, with me almost always in the middle. I cleared up misunderstandings and found common ground: in our sophomore year, Kate and Vicki got into a fight about gun control (Vicki’s libertarian principles clashing with Kate’s progressive sensibilities), and I spent an anxiety-filled week negotiating a truce, apologizing to one on behalf of the other, failing a sociology test in the process.

After we graduated from Wellesley, we decided to move to New York as individuals—still as a trio in spirit, but not as roommates. I figured it was for the best, knowing that our friendships would be far less complicated without the petty problems that stem from too much togetherness. I was relieved to move forward into something simple and more adult.

And then Kate had her disastrous triple toe loop ass-on-ice wipeout and suddenly I found myself reentangled, back in the middle of a big mess.

Customer Reviews

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Small Admissions: A Novel 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Kate graduated top of her class and was headed to graduate school when something happens and sends her in a tail spin - this something is spoilerie so lets keep it vague! With the help of her sister, she finds a job that just may get her out of the funk. At the same time, her sister is pregnant with baby #2 and their parents have been galavanting around the world. And there are two other best friends who's love lives take center stage. I love the job that took Kate out of the funk! She became the head of admissions at a private high school and she is out of her league! With her job, she interviews possible students and their parents and makes suggestions on whether to admit them or not. Not only does this book have typical chapters, within the chapters are fun emails, notes and interview logs - I love a book that seems like it has extras to add to the story.
ThoughtsFromaPage More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this book. Small Admissons is so clever and at times side-splittingly hysterical. As I read it and even now several weeks later, I remain amazed that this is Amy Poeppel’s debut novel. The book is that good. While I obviously loved every bit of the book, my two favorite things about it were the characters and the format. Kate, her co-workers and those she encounters on the job, and her friends and family are well-developed and highly entertaining. Having just survived the private school application process myself, I really enjoyed reading about the various parents applying to the school where Kate works, particularly the more over the top families. The format Poeppel chose works very well for her plot; in addition to the standard storytelling method, the book unfolds in memos, emails, and other correspondence which really added to the story. I highly recommend this novel and cannot wait for her next book!
vvb32 More than 1 year ago
Although the focus is on one person, Kate, I loved the huge cast and all the little stories that came with them. The behind-the-scenes take on school admissions process and the drama that goes hand-in-hand with it was interesting and amusing. Sister and girlfriend relationships are explored along with a bit of romance. Character growth and observations provided gold nuggets on life and living.
Holly More than 1 year ago
Small Admissions is the story of a woman dealing with heartbreak when a job at a admissions office will change everything! After being dumped in Paris by her almost fiance, Kate Pearson has abandoned her grad school plans to just laying around while dealing with her broken heart. While her practical sister, Angela try to get her out of the house, it takes a job in a admissions office for a private school for things to change with Kate. At this prestigious private school, Kate learns that there is no time for self pity while learning to live again as a normal person. As she navigates the private school scene, it takes a incident at the school for Kate to realize what she has been missing in her life. With the story ending one year in the future, Kate is finally to that place where she, her family and friends can all be happy once again! This was a really good book and for me, it really gets good when she gets the job and everything that entails with it! The way this book was writing, with emails and having little snippets of what her sister and friends was doing behind her back just to make sure that Kate won't go back to being unhappy was perfect for the story being told! I so want to see a movie being made from this book just to see everything play out on the big screen including the incident at the school! Thank You to Amy Poeppel for writing a book that makes me excited to see what is to come from you in the future!! I received this book from BookSparks : Fall Reading Challenge 2016 in exchange for a honest review.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I really liked this story about three college friends and one very overbearing sister. One of the college friends, Kate, has a complete breakdown when her boyfriend breaks up with her at the airport in France in which she has just flown there to live with him. You realize later in the book there is more involved. However, she spends months on the couch, in her sweatpants, watching TV and holding her landlord's cat. I know that sounds depressing, but this only goes on for a short while in the book. Her overbearing sister, Angela, finds a job for Kate and it's a new beginning for her. Then, of course, Angela still harps on her sister, especially when she finds out she's going to dinner with her boss, she doesn't see her, etc. Then there is the case of her two college friends. I won't go into detail about them. However, I can tell you the book is about friends, growing up and just life itself. I enjoyed my journey reading about these women and their coming into their own. I really became attached to them. The author did a great job with character development, especially with Kate. The story definitely held my attention and I was certainly entertained. Chloe interviewing internet dates for Kate was actually quite funny. Thanks to Atria Books for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Xkoqueen More than 1 year ago
The premise of Amy Poeppel's Small Admissions grabbed me, however, the story itself did little for me. I found the start of the book confusing disjointed, so "we" got off on the wrong foot. Small Admissions features yet another recent college graduate who is disenfranchised when she isn't handed the life she wants on a silver platter. Instead of moving forward with a plan B and harder work, Kate Pearson wallows in self pity until her sister, Amy, finds her a job. The characters are rather one dimensional and mostly dislikable. When they aren't busy complaining, they're busily stabbing one another in the back. Clearly, main character Kate can add "judge of character" to her self-improvement list. I did enjoy the fabulously dysfunctional and highly over-achieving parents whom Kate interviews as part of the admissions process to the coveted Hudson Day School. Juxtapose their very normal progeny with the parents' descriptions of their the achievements and attributes of their 12-year-olds-who-could-rule-the-world, and you've got some entertainment. I'm still enamored with the premise of the story, but I couldn't relate to any characters or their behavior/life choices. I was hoping for a laugh-out-loud comedic tale, but it was too filled with negativity for me. I didn't find the snark funny or pithy. Overall, Small Admissions was not a spectacularly good read that I could highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This. book. is. hilarious!! Especially for someone who grew up in NY, I always wondered what the big deal was about private schools. Hysterical, I caught myself snickering out loud several times. I haven't read such a fun book in a while and it made me nosological for books of the era when sarcasm rules!
crystallyn More than 1 year ago
The story of Small Admissions weaves in and out of the cutthroat world of private school admissions in NYC (which is fascinating), but the true heart of this story are the four women who are connected by blood, friendship and one bad boy (ex) boyfriend. Amy Poeppel has such an incredible wit and she brings each character to life in a picture-perfect way. I found myself chuckling and cheering all the way through the book. And I'm one of those people who says, "ciao," which, when I got to that part, made me burst out laughing in a public place, garnering many looks from the people around me. In my defense, though, I do speak Italian! Small Admissions is a fun and funny novel that I completely adored and highly recommend. I can't wait to see what Poeppel will come up with next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I implore you, pour yourself a glass of wine and curl up with this book. Around 10% in is where I started snort laughing into my glass, and probably burned through hundreds of calories smiling and laughing throughout the book. The realizations of the cast of characters, as they each face their own drama, are done so well and each stream of consciousness is simply hysterical. And, my goodness does this book have rhythm. I found myself flying through the pages, reading passages aloud to my husband, who kept reminding me he was reading his own book. Definitely recommend!