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Title: Admissions
Author: Nancy Lieberman
Publisher: Warner Books (September 2004)
Genre/Market: Fiction

ISBN #: 0446533033
355 pages
Price:  $23.95

Rating: Highly Recommended


August 31, 2004

Enter the very exclusive world of New York private schools and the desperate and often amusing machinations of the very wealthy parents who will do just about anything to assure their child’s entry into one of the few coveted spots which open annually at these schools.   Children in this world are often commodities, whose worth depends upon their pedigrees and stations in life.  The child’s wants and needs are secondary to what their parents’ expectations for them are.  Getting into the right kindergarten can make or break any hopes of making it into the Ivy Leagues down the line.  How much money you donate to a particular school can determine your child’s future.  From birth, the activities of these elite children are micromanaged down to the second - in order to gain consideration at the right K-8 school your 5-year-old must already be proficient in dance, music, language and more just to keep up with the other applicants.


As September dawns, Helen Drager is in a frenzy over daughter Zoe’s future.  Zoe has spent her formative years at The School, a very desirable private school where Helen has been an extremely proactive parent.  Helen is an art critic who is happily married to Michael, a TV producer for the Food Network.  Now that Zoe is in 8th grade, she must begin the admissions process for finding the right high school for her station in life.  Helen truly loves her daughter and is trying very hard to hear what Zoe has to say about her own future even when it conflicts with Helen’s own wishes and dreams for her.


Sara Nash is the admissions director at The School.  She is down to earth and she is also Helen’s best friend.  We become familiar with The School through both Sara’s and Helen’s eyes.  Sara always tries to do what is right and cares deeply about the good of the school and the students.  But Pamela Rothschild, the imperious and self-serving director of The School who over-inflates her influence and importance to everyone within earshot, thwarts her at almost every turn.  She demands complete obedience from not only the students, but the parents of the students at The School.  Most of the parents are only too happy to comply, out of fear that one wrong word from Pamela can destroy any hopes they have for a brilliant future for their offspring.


We are taken inside this rarified world during the crucial September through February period of the admissions process at both The School and the prospective high schools for the graduating 8th graders.  With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Lieberman helps us get to know the other often neurotic parents and their children, the quirky admissions directors at these schools, and grants us an inside view of the lifestyles of the Rich and Frantic.  This is a witty and enjoyable read and one that will make you sigh with relief that you have your own kids in public schools!


Reviewed by Nancy Machlis Rechtman

Purchase your copy today!