cover image The Admissions

The Admissions

Meg Mitchell Moore. Doubleday, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-54004-9

Moore's stellar follow-up to So Far Away concerns the beleaguered Hawthorne family, whose eldest daughter, Angela, is furiously working to get into Harvard, her father, Gabe's, alma mater. Like her anxious mother Nora, a type-A real estate agent, Angela's determination never flags. She's been gunning for a spot at Harvard ever since Gabe put her in a sweatshirt with its logo when she was a toddler. Her insurmountable workload leads her to begin abusing stimulants and start contemplating devious ways to remain valedictorian. Moore's title is a play on words, as Nora and Gabe also harbor secrets. Workaholic Nora is convinced that an old accident brought on by her job-focused carelessness is why youngest child, seven-year-old Maya, now can't read. Meanwhile, an ambitious intern threatens to air Gabe's dirty laundry unless he pulls some strings for her. Pressure to sell an overpriced home and a possible lawsuit consume Nora as Angela begins to feel the deleterious effects of her stressful life. Moore successfully conveys how the quest for excellence spares no one in this industrious clan: even cheerful middle child, Cecily, loses her sense of self after a mistake costs her dance team. This is a page-turner as well as an insightful character study. (Aug.)