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 was interested in this book because it sounded fascinating. A book about the college admissions scandal; a girl caught up in the whirlwind that is her mom bribing her way way into college. It didn’t sound like something I’d normally read, but it sounded interesting enough that wanted to give it a shot!
I’ve found it hard to articulate my feelings about it this book. It was good; the author is a very good writer and a great storyteller, but I felt like there were deeper things that could have been highlighted or different POVs that could have been given more attention.
Before I get into that, I want to talk about the things I did like! Because I did enjoy parts of this book. One of them is how this book doesn’t try to paint this situation, or the people caught up in it, in any light other than the one the cast their self in. They did terrible things, they ignored things they shouldn’t have, the lied about things, and they need to take accountability for it and that’s not something that’s easy to do.
I also really liked the writing. Buxbaum is talented at what she does. The writing fit the story really well. It flows easily and built a tension that pulls you through the story smoothly.
One of the things I wasn’t sure about was the POV. Yes, I liked seeing Chloe wrestle with what happened and her own role in it. It made for an interesting story. But I can’t help but wondering if there were better POVs for this story. Isla, Chloe’s sister, has an interesting perspective. It wasn’t her that the bribes were for, but she is apart of the family that did the bribes. It effected her life, even though she had no part in it. I would’ve been cool to see her pain and really see how she struggled and developed throughout.
I also think this would have been a great story if Chloe’s best friend, Shola, was the narrator, though I think a different author would’ve been best for that story. Shola is a POC, struggling with the admissions process. She’s successful and a good student, but there are so many barriers in her way. I think it would’ve been a great story to see her grapple with the fact that her best friend’s family had did something so awful. I think it would’ve really exposed (more so than already done) the privilege in what happened and how it affects other people.
While this book didn’t insert a deep love inside me, it wasn’t terrible. I feel like there’s so much about it that I can’t comment on, because I’ve never been through something like that. This tries it’s best to comment on the privilege of the college admissions process. It’s hard for me to say if it succeeded or not, but I can definitely say that it’s there. My thoughts on this book are a bit all over the place, but I wouldn’t say it was terrible. If you think it sounds interesting, I’d say it’s worth it to give it a shot!