Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy
Anne will get your child into the college of his or her choice (or your choice). At least she is your best bet against quotas, legacies and less-than-spectacular grades when you have the money to pay her to guide your child to spinning his or her minuses into pluses that lead to graduation from a top American college or university. Anne, however, hasn’t spent a lot of time figuring out what she wants to do with her life. So, while she paves paths for kids with rich but difficult parents and the occasional well-deserving candidate, she must face the voids in her own life and determine what she really wants to do when she grows up.
Lacy Crawford spent years working as a consultant to parents who wanted the insider help necessary to get their children into the schools they felt they deserved to attend --- the Ivies and all those other places where the trajectory of one’s life will be served better due to the auspicious start a good school can offer. She worked for 15 years discreetly consulting families of all stripes on this most expensive and emotional journey, and now brings all that experience to play in EARLY DECISION. Crawford writes with a light but firm hand, giving us characters who are well-steeped in reality and with whom we can find some kinship, as well as others who are a little more stereotypical --- rich, entitled parents, movie star boyfriends, students with all the good qualities except money. The book combines all their stories into the growing up of Anne, the college consultant who learns to use her own abilities to find what she really wants out of life.
"Crawford writes with a light but firm hand, giving us characters who are well-steeped in reality and with whom we can find some kinship, as well as others who are a little more stereotypical..."
The young people are the best part of the story. Here we have five rich kids looking to make their own mark while their parents use all that is at their fingertips to ensure their success, and one hard-working girl whose background seems to have slated her for junior college at best and a lifetime of middle management, if she is lucky. Anne takes all these kids under her wing (she is well paid for the privilege) and helps them understand what they really want. And, in doing that, she begins to shed her own insecurities about her love for words and literature and move toward a life that would give her all the benefits she offers to these other students --- security and passion, money and love.
Crawford moves the story along, often forgetting to have any sympathy for the parents who only want what is best for their kids. It is clear that the work she used to do left a bad taste in her mouth, as Anne is always trying to justify her means with the big bag of dough she gets at the end. She feels almost too close in age to the kids she helps, but at times this is exactly the reason we can feel the ups and downs of the students’ searches and travails so deeply.
One relationship in Anne’s life is the impetus for her self-discovery --- her boyfriend, Martin, an up-and-coming Hollywood actor who causes a stir, in her heart and in her life. However, the character of Martin seems so dumb and Crawford never really gets us to see where Anne’s passion for him came from; he seems so narcissistic and uninterested in Anne’s dilemmas that he slows the narrative down. You can’t wait for her to get back to the almost-graudates, all kids who turn out to know better about how to play adult games than the adults. They are the real focus of the story, its better engine.
EARLY DECISION is a book with some factual information for parents who are in the midst of looking towards that day when college admissions will overtake their lives. Crawford shares plenty of info with us through Anne --- what schools are looking for, the price of passion in a world economy gone wrong. And with every step she takes, Anne moves closer to her own better decisions. Watch some interesting people grow up in EARLY DECISION, and good luck to everyone who is actually going through this process right now.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on November 1, 2013
Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy
- Publication Date: August 27, 2013
- Genres: Fiction
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow
- ISBN-10: 0062240617
- ISBN-13: 9780062240613