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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Weekend Cooking- Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food.

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel
Published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books ISBN 97815011122521
Hardcover, $26, 384 pages

Once I saw the hilarious trailer for Amy Poeppel's novel, Small Admissions, I knew I had to read it.
See for yourself. (Note- there is language in this that some may find objectionable.)

I'm about three-quarters of the way through the book, and I love it. Kate is a twenty-something young woman who just went through a terrible breakup with her boyfriend. Kate has fallen apart, she has no job, she drinks so much the neighborhood liquor store owner looks upon her with scorn, and her friends and family do not know how to help her get out of her funk.

Kate's sister Angela gets her an interview for a job in the admissions office of the prestigious Upper East Side of Manhattan Hudson School, where to everyone's surprise, Kate gets the job.

I am loving everything about this book. The characters are wonderful, and Poeppel seamlessly weaves the various characters into the story- Angela, Kate's friends Victoria and Chloe, the admissions staff at Hudson, and the parents desperate to get their children into Hudson.

I laughed out loud so many times, mostly at the craziness of the private school admissions process. Poeppel clearly knows this world well and skewers it with a sense of gentle love.

Kate and Angela's parents are professors, "nerdy academics" as Angela calls them. There is a scene at the family home, back when Kate was just about to graduate from college, that applies to Weekend Cooking.

At the house, they convened in the cluttered kitchen over a meal that their mother called "Kaltes Abendbrot" or sometimes "Smorgasboard," depending on the selection, which in either case referred to black bread and things to put on black bread. Sprigs of dill were tucked between tiny shrimp and sliced eggs, not-quite-cooked to hard-boiled, and there was a chunky pate that made Angela wonder, "Chunks of what?"  Kate took off her jacket and pushed up her sleeves, saying "Mmmm, what a spread!" while Angela felt her usual disappointment, wondering what would be wrong with a nice chicken Caesar salad for once.
The four of them together (otherwise known, their parents had taught them, as a clan, or kinship unit, or conjugal family) stood around the butcher-block island to eat, as they had every school night. "Like pigs at the trough," their mother used to say happily. "Standing promotes digestion," their father reminded them. So did the tiny glasses of digestif they always drank after dinner. Lots of words for that too: Obstler or akavit. Kirschwasser or Schnapps.  "Corrupting a minor" was what Angela's friend's mother had called it when she notified the police on the evening of the dinner-balls.
Small Admissions is a gem of a book. If you're looking for a story that will make you laugh and have you rooting for the main character, this is it. People have compared it to The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries, but I enjoyed Small Admissions much more than those. I highly recommend it.

Amy Poeppel's website is here.
Reading With Robin interviewed Amy Poeppel on her podcast here.


  1. HAHAHAHAHA great trailer. And now you have convinced me that I have to read or listen to this book.

  2. I really need to read something humorous right now and this book looks perfect! Definitely adding it to my TBR. Thanks for sharing it! :)

  3. Thanks for the review, it sounds like my sort of book. And if you don't want to cook a sort of Swedish "spread" like that works fine.

  4. Sounds good! I love NYC novels! We called a mishmash of leftovers a "smorgasborg". Families develop their own private languages, don't they?