Thank you NetGalley and Delacorte Press for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine.
Synopsis: It's good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer. She's headed off to the college of her dreams. She's going to prom with the boy she's had a crush on since middle school. Her best friend always has her back, and her mom, a B-list Hollywood celebrity, may finally be on her way to the B+ list. It's good to be Chloe Wynn Berringer--at least, it was, until the FBI came knocking on her front door, guns at the ready, and her future went up in smoke. Now her mother is under arrest in a massive college admissions bribery scandal. Chloe, too, might be facing charges, and even time behind bars. The public is furious, the press is rabid, and the US attorney is out for blood.
As she loses everything she's long taken for granted, Chloe must reckon not only with the truth of what happened, but also with the examination of her own guilt. Why did her parents think the only way for her to succeed was to cheat for her? What did she know, and when did she know it? And perhaps most importantly, what does it mean to be complicit? (Amazon)
Publication Date: May 5, 2020
Genre: Contemporary / YA
Rating: 4 stars
***BEWARE POSSIBLE SPOILERS***
Unapologetically honest. That is the best description for Admission, and the facts that Julie Buxbaum has given us: those with money want to buy their way toward the bigger and the better, and more often than not, they accomplish it. I don't want to do the unpleasant thing and group a whole bunch of people with 'X' common denominator into the same group, but, let's face it, this “privilege” mentality happens every single day. And though it is clearly expressed that this is a work of fiction, one can't help but recall the very famous and real case that was brought to light in 2019 involving an extremely similar college scandal.
I'll be honest, I wasn't high enough on the GPA spectrum or extra-curricular activity side of school to even aspire going to a university like Yale, Princeton or Harvard (although, as an aside, I do want to visit Yale one day, because that campus is gorgeous). I did well, I was right on that 3.5 GPA line, and I'm proud of my ranking. But an Ivy League school would've laughed themselves to death if I had so much as attempted to apply to them.
I did, however, know a few students in my high school that not only wanted to attend schools like these, but they were incredibly bright, talented young men and women who would've been incredible assets. A lot of them did not make it, and while back then I felt bad since their hearts were so obviously set on this, now, as an adult, I better understand the probabilities and possibilities of why they may not have succeeded in being approved for entrance.
There were times when it was uncomfortable to read Admission, because the family around which it revolves is so entitled, without being aware of how much this term applies to them. They have every material thing that they could possibly want—or need—they have so many doors open to them for all the things that they could want to do in life, they have other people running around town fetching them coffee, or ice cream, or laundry. And yet, for some reason, they go to specialists so that they can make sure that they poop in optimal position.
And this truly could happen out there, in the “real” world. If The Real Housewives of ANYWHERE has taught me anything, is that drama sells and if you have enough money to stop knowing what to do with it, you spend it on other people telling you how to do mundane tasks in a way that will get you best results. Cause heavens forbid we sit incorrectly on a toilet seat.
In the whole of this novel, my favorite character is Isla. This young girl, one year beneath our lead Chloe, is more in contact with the reality of the world than the rest of her family, and it is so satisfying to see her throw this in their faces as the story progresses. She helps them wake up and snap the hell out of it. Isla, who comes from this wealthy family, works hard, sweats, bleeds for what she accomplishes in life; it's one of the best lessons that Chloe learns: her little sister Isla is going to get into the school of her dreams one day because she struggled for it, not because mommy and daddy were able to pay her way to it.
This story is a perfect example of what happens when the silver spoon is ripped away from you and you crash to the ground: you suffer, you look like an idiot, and you answer to the law. We, as the other side of the coin, want this, we hunger for it, and sometimes we are a little crazed and violent in our relish of those who did wrong pay. It's all spelled here, clear as day. I'm just glad that those involved are aware of what they do. I'm glad that the author allows Chloe's mom—and dad—to stop being in denial as the face of this scandal, face what she did, and own up to it. The interview near the end of the novel, where she basically has a nervous breakdown on life TV and admits her culpability and apologizes, brought tears to my eyes.
Yes, this is a novel of disgustingly affluent individuals who take complete advantage of their status, but it's about what it means to be a human being. And as a human being you are going to make mistakes. Bottom line, emotionally, this is a fantastic novel. Buxbaum presents us with a less than perfect group of people, who are not great to read about and make you cringe every time an elite-status-related sentence spews out of their mouths—sometimes without them even realizing it, which is somehow worse—and slowly peels away at them until we get a rawer version, stripped of all pretense.
We still know that they did wrong, but somehow we appreciate it all a little more because now they have awareness. It's very real, it's very current, and it's very worth the read.
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