Author: Meg Mitchell Moore
Narrator: Allyson Ryan
Published: August 2015, Random House Audio
Length: 14 hours 34 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible
The Admissions brilliantly captures the frazzled pressure cooker of modern life as a seemingly perfect family comes undone by a few desperate measures, long-buried secrets—and college applications!
The Hawthorne family has it all. Great jobs, a beautiful house in one of the most affluent areas of northern California, and three charming kids with perfectly straight teeth. And then comes their eldest daughter's senior year of high school . . .
Firstborn Angela Hawthorne is a straight-A student and star athlete, with extracurricular activities coming out of her ears and a college application that's not going to write itself. She's set her sights on Harvard, her father's alma mater, and like a dog with a chew toy, Angela won't let up until she's basking in crimson-colored glory. Except her class rank as valedictorian is under attack, she's suddenly losing her edge at cross-country, and she can't help but daydream about the cute baseball player in English class. Of course Angela knows the time put into her schoolgirl crush would be better spent coming up with a subject for her term paper—which, along with her college essay and community service hours has a rapidly approaching deadline.
Angela's mother, Nora, is similarly stretched to the limit, juggling parent-teacher meetings, carpool, and a real-estate career where she caters to the mega rich and super-picky buyers and sellers of the Bay Area. The youngest daughter, Maya, still can't read at the age of eight; the middle-child, Cecily, is no longer the happy-go-lucky kid she once was; and the dad, Gabe, seems oblivious to the mounting pressures at home because a devastating secret of his own might be exposed. A few ill-advised moves put the Hawthorne family on a heedless collision course that's equal parts achingly real and delightfully screwball.
Sharp and topical, The Admissions shows that if you pull at a loose thread, even the sturdiest of lives start to unravel at the seams of high achievement.
My thoughts: This is the first book I've read/listened to by Meg Mitchell Moore and I have a feeling it's not going to be the last. From the first line, I was captivated and found myself completely engaged in this story.
This was such a great story that really says a lot about our culture today. What happens when we become so focused on perfection and success that we lose sight of everything else? Have we become a society that is always on the go and trying to do too much because it looks good on a resume or college application? The Hawthorne family certainly seemed to think so. Not only are Nora and Gabe work-a-holics, but they have placed tremendous pressure on their oldest daughter, grooming her to get into Harvard, so much so that she's applying early action. And what about their other two children?
Not all is as rosy as the Hawthorne family would have you think and as the story unfolds, we learn that each and every member of the family is hiding a secret or two. But they all feel as though they have everything under control, everyone but the youngest, Maya. The others feel that they don't need to talk about their problems or issues - they feel that they can handle it by themselves and that it will eventually all work out. Of course it doesn't work that way and as the secrets start to come out, the family finds itself facing some major decisions.
I found myself completely wrapped up in the family dynamics and individual trials of each member of the Hawthorne family. I had a hard time putting this story down, and ended up listening to it in just two days, which is unusual for me but I just needed to keep going to find out how it would all play out. I loved each and every character, flaw and all, and felt that there are so many take-aways from this book, whether you are a parent or not.
Audio Thoughts: This was a great book to listen to on audio. It's the first time I've listened to Allyson Ryan and I loved the way she narrated this story. The pacing of the book was great, too, and it made for quite an enjoyable listening experience. I will definitely be checking out what else Allyson Ryan has narrated.
The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore is one of the She Reads "Books of Fall" reading selection picks.
Head over to the She Reads website to read reviews and related posts of this book, as well as posts related to the other "Books of Fall" selections.