by Amy Poeppel is a study of the high-school admissions process
with perspectives by four women who are connected by blood,
friendship, and ex-boyfriends. The story is enduring for those
who understand about entitlement, but beyond that there is
the personal story of Kate, the main character.
The author created the story about eight years ago, “After
we moved to New York City we started the interview process
to see which school was best for our children. Unfortunately,
my husband and I were really bad at it. After thinking about
it, I started writing comedic parent interviewing scenes.
Using humor for dialogue I turned those into a play for the
Actor’s Studio, and then into a novel. My experiences
led me to take prospective parents on tours at the school
we sent my son to. One thing led to another and I ended up
applying for a job in the admission’s office. Then all
of a sudden I was on the other side of the desk, as I was
seeing it from the school’s perspective instead of the
The plot begins with Kate being dumped by her fiancé.
Her life is in disarray where she prefers to stay hidden in
her apartment until her sister gets her a job interview. Although
Kate gives completely inappropriate and not politically correct
answers she somehow gets the job. This becomes a springboard
for Kate getting back on her feet as she uses the position
to regain her confidence. She takes the job as an assistant
admissions officer at the prestigious private New York Hudson
Readers are taken on a hilarious ride as they explore the
absurd competitive world between the prospective students
and parents. Kate begins to understand that she was wallowing
in self-pity and decides to change her life around. She starts
to piece her life back together and figure out exactly what
she wants. Between Kate’s relationships and the different
personalities of the children/parents, as well as the school,
it becomes obvious this book is an examination of human nature.
Poeppel hopes readers will get out of the book, “A fun
peek at this crazy private school world. I tried to show humor
in the situation where people get into such frenzy over it.
Readers should question, what are the criteria in how we evaluate
people financially, socially, and educationally? What are
our priorities? Who do we want to impress and with what matrix?”
The exploration of the different personalities of each character
enhances the plot. Kate is intelligent, unorthodox, and caring.
She is contrasted with her ex-fiancé who is narcissistic
and does not care if he hurts those around him. Her sister
Angela is like many older siblings who always have their younger
ones best interests at heart; even though at times they can
be seen as overbearing. The rest of the characters, college
friends of Kate, have their own heartbreaks and hidden secrets.
Poeppel noted, “Kate is imperfect and makes mistakes,
but overcomes adversity. She must handle acceptance and rejection
in her professional and personal life. She took three steps
forward and one step backward. Because of her job she gained
confidence and accomplishment. The springboard of her job
forced her to talk and listen to people.”
Small Admissions is not just about the process of
applying to a private school, it is also about how each character
looked within to find their faults and strengths. The core
of the story is about friendship and family, disappointments