cover image City People

City People

Elizabeth Topp. Little A, $28.99 (318p) ISBN 978-1-66250-733-5

Topp’s appealing second novel (after Perfectly Impossible) chronicles six friends vying for a spot for their children at a top New York City private school while dealing with the death of someone in their circle. Vic, who has writer’s block and desperately needs to turn in her next novel, wonders how she could’ve missed the signs of depression in her friend Susan, who died by suicide as their mom group began the arduous process of applying to Kent, Vic’s alma matter. Also in the group is Bhavna, a makeup executive who hopes her son’s admission to Kent will further open doors for her and her husband; and Kara, a stay-at-home mom who feigns wealth by wearing homemade copies of designer garments. Kara becomes obsessed with Susan’s family after her friend’s death brings up the trauma of her own sister’s suicide. There’s also Penelope, another stay-at-home mom, who’s vying to make a business deal with Amy, whose father is a powerful banker. Topp packs a lot into the narrative while thoroughly fleshing out each of her protagonists. There’s much to enjoy in this character-driven portrait of the high-stakes world of New York private school admissions. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (Aug.)