Sunday, November 29, 2020

Book Review: "Admission" by Julie Buxbaum

Julie Buxbaum's new YA novel, Admission, is a fictional look at the recent college admissions scandal.

Chloe doesn’t love school. She enjoys spending time with her friends and all the perks of going to an exclusive private school, but schoolwork doesn’t come easy to her, and her grades and SAT scores reflect that. She doesn’t know what she wants out of life or if she even wants to go to college.

Her mother is a B-list television actress and her dad is a wealthy businessman, and they want Chloe to go to a good college. So they hire a special college counselor to help Chloe with improving her test scores, strengthening her applications, etc. And when she gets in to the school of her dreams, she’s excited and relieved.

But the next thing she knows, the FBI is swarming her house and arresting her mother for being part of a massive college admissions bribery scandal. This threatens Chloe and her dad, too, and there’s a chance she could even be prosecuted.

Suddenly everything Chloe has held dear is in ruins. It forces her to confront her privilege, and come to terms with what she actually knew about the whole thing, and what she did about it. But more than that she needs to understand why her parents felt they needed to do this for her. Did they think she’d fail otherwise, and would that be embarrassing for them?

"Under all this lies the terrible quicksand of fear. What if they are right? What if it's true that we are terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad people? If I allow myself to dip my toes into that idea, that I am not actually the hero of my own story but a villain, I quickly find myself neck deep."

Even though this book has a very ripped-from-the-headlines feel I was really hooked on it. It’s crazy to read about the strings that get pulled for families with money, putting others at a disadvantage. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic but this still was an interesting story about how blind we are to our privilege. It also was entertaining to see how “the other half” lives.

NetGalley and Delacorte Press provided me with a complimentary advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

The book publishes 12/1/2020.

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