Thank you to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for an eARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!
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?
I’ll be the first to admit that I was enraptured by the college admission scandal that was Lori Laughlin and Felicity Hoffman. People who already have so much privilege and a leg up took it to another level just to brag about what college their kids go to. The lengths they went to in order to get into these top colleges was mind blowing. Faked learning disabilities, doctored pictures, fake sports profiles it would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
Admission follows Chloe who is a very white and very privileged girl thanks to her mom being a top B-list actress. Think aunt Becky in Full House but hotter and a bit over the top. Chloe loves her family something fierce, but kind of takes her life for granted and just skates by never really having to work hard for anything. Her life is pretty great though until the FBI shows up at her door one morning, guns loaded, and arrests her mom. Turns out she didn’t get into her dream college of a whim, but is part of a larger college scam that is happening nationwide. Chloe swears up and down that she had no idea, but is she telling the truth?
The main focus of the book is obviously the college scandal. Through flashbacks we get to see the events leading up to the acceptance to SSC while also getting to follow how the investigation is happening in real time. At first the flashbacks were a tad annoying because I wanted to know what was going on “now” instead, but they gave great insight not only to who Chloe was as a person and how she ended up in this situation in the first place.
Chloe’s family is very much not the typical American family. Her mom is a super hot actress that is always doing somewhat odd publicity, her dad is also pretty yummy according to her best friend, and her younger sister Isla is smart and works hard in school. Chloe was just kind of aimless, unsure in what she wanted for her future so she didn’t really try in school. She wasn’t stupid, but she wasn’t even middle of her class. College was still an option for her though maybe just not the college her parents wanted for her. It really felt like they were pushing her for it while Chloe would have been happy anywhere. Sometimes she seemed to realize how rich she was and what that meant, but other times she would contradict herself. I liked her as a character though, especially by the end of the book. There was a ton of growing up that had to happen for her during this situation and I think she came out a better person because of it.
One of Chloe’s passions in the book was her volunteering in the buddy program at the Reading and Resource Center. Her little buddy Cesar was adorable and had his own story happening during all of the drama. The storyline of immigration was not one I expected to find here but it worked in well. I could see where Buxbaum might be taking that and I was glad when it all connected at the end of the book.
A story about over-privilege and a scandal that ensues because of it is not one where you plan on connected with or even liking the main character. I liked Chloe though and I loved her smart as a whip sister. Their relationship was one of my favorite parts of this book and really showed how through thick and thin your family has you back. Maybe they sometimes have it just a little too much though.