• Paperback: 320 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 26, 2014)
A delightful and salacious novel about the frightful world of high school, SATs, the college essay, and the Common Application—and how getting in is getting in the way of growing up
Anne Arlington is twenty-seven, single, and in demand: she is the independent “college whisperer” whose name is passed from parent to parent like a winning lottery ticket, the only tutor who can make a difference with the Ivy League.
Early Decision follows one application season and the five students Anne guides to their fates: Hunter, the athletic boy who never quite hits his potential, a kind, heavily defended kid who drives his mother mad; Sadie, an heiress who is perfectly controlled but at the expense of her own heart; William, whose intelligence permits him to dodge his father’s cruel conservatism but can’t solve the problem of loneliness; Alexis, a blazing overachiever whose Midwestern parents have never heard of a tiger mom; and Cristina, who could write her ticket out of her enormous, failing high school, if only she knew how.
Meanwhile, Anne needs a little coaching herself, having learned that even the best college does not teach a person how to make a life.
In this engrossing, intelligent novel, Lacy Crawford delivers an explosive insider’s guide to the secrets of college admissions at the highest levels. It’s also a deft commentary on modern parenting and how the scramble for Harvard is shaping a generation. Told in part through the students’ essays, this unique and witty book is so closely observed that it has been mistaken for a memoir or a how-to guide. A wise and deeply felt story, Early Decision reveals how getting in is getting in the way of growing up.
Buy, read, and discuss Early Decision
For fifteen years Lacy Crawford served as a highly discreet independent college admissions counselor to the children of powerful clients in cities such as New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London. Her “day jobs” included serving as senior editor of Narrative magazine and director of the Burberry Foundation. Educated at Princeton and the University of Chicago, Crawford lives in California with her husband and two children.
Connect with Lacy
If you, like me, remember being flooded with college applications in high school, each one more interesting and attractive than the last, then this book, Earl Decision is for you.
The story is fresh and original – instead of a coming of age novel about one kid getting into his or her dream school, it’s a novel about a woman, Anne, who gudes kids toward finding the school that best matches their dreams, allowing both the kids and Anne herself to come of age along the way.
Anne is twenty-seven, but that’s not important. Coming-of-age is something that can be done no matter what age you are. Some of us are still doing it in our forties – figuring out our dreams, our desires, and how they mesh with the prosaic reality of everyday life.
But I digress. What I loved about this novel, was the crisp, contemporary language, and the way Anne adapted her use of language for whatever situation she was in. Talking with a bigwig lawyer, she used more formal speech. Speaking with a lazy high school boy, she turned to soft joking. It’s a skill we all need, and many of us lack.
I also thought the book felt cinematic. I could totally see it as a movie on ABC Family or Lifetime, with a quartet of well-scrubbed twenty-year-olds playing the teenagers and Amy Adams or Allison Mack (has she done any work since Smallville) playing Anne. What I mean is, the places described in this novel felt real. You could feel the air conditioning, hear the lawn mowers, taste the tea.
Finally, I thought the convention of showing us the examples of student essays was fantastic. It took me back to my own high school days, and the endless practice essays our teachers would make us write. (I confess, my default essay mode is a five-paragraph persuasive essay to this day.)
Whether you’re looking at colleges right now, or have a child who is approaching the application frenzy, this novel will entertain and educate, and never disappoint, except when you reach the last page, and realize it’s over.
Goes well with A fruit and cheese plate and mango iced tea.
This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information, and the complete list of tour stops, click HERE.