Getting In, by Karen Stabiner

I found Karen Stabiner's novel Getting In surprisingly readable, despite the fact that fully 99% of its plot could be summed up with a dismissive “First world problems”.

Getting In is the story of five Los Angeles high school seniors and their families: Lauren, a middle-of-the-road student, the high-achieving and deeply unpleasant Katie, Brad, a fourth-generation Harvard legacy, Liz, the straight-A daughter of ambitious immigrants, and Chloe, who is using the college-applications process to expertly manipulate her divorced parents. All of the kids come from families who are determined to get their offspring into their school of choice, even if that means setting aside any sense of ethics, financial reality, or the children's own desires.

Getting In reads like a novelization of a reality TV show—Real Parents of College-Bound Seniors in Beverly Hills, maybe. Like reality TV stars, Stabiner's characters are memorable, over-the-top, and largely divided into “good” and “bad” camps. Almost everyone (including the good characters) is prone to self-destructive behavior, ranging from ineffectiveness to outright malice, even when that behavior makes no sense. Stabiner has a gift for amusing descriptive passages, and her subject matter is certainly topical, but a little less manufactured drama and a little more realism might have transformed her novel into something both entertaining and emotionally engaging.

Review based on a publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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