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.
Young Adult, Contemporary
PART OF A SERIES?:
December 1st, 2020
Owned Physical Copy
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From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes an of-the-moment novel that peeks inside the private lives of the hypercompetitive and the hyperprivileged and takes on the college admissions bribery scandal that rocked the country.
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?
When the college admissions scandal first hit the news, I can honestly remember the first thought I had – the absolute audacity of these people. These were not poor people – these were celebrities and CEOs and people with money. These kids could afford to go to college but no, they wanted MORE, they wanted the BEST, and I just remember being furious about it. I grew up poor as hell, one of six children, and while we sometimes made our way into lower middle class, we were decidedly lower class, for sure. Privilege, uncontrolled privilege, unrecognized privilege…it honestly really boils me up.
When I realized Julie, an amazing person and dear friend of mine, had written a novel from the fictional point of view of a girl wrapped up in the scandal, I knew I had to read it. Because another thought I had when it came to these scandals was also…the kids knew right? Like…they had to have known, right? They’re on the precipice of adulthood or just past it and they had to have known right?
Julie’s book doesn’t answer that question, of course, and honestly, I doubt we’ll have an answer, ever. But it does give us a look into what could have happened and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Julie’s book gives the people behind this scandal more humanity, in a way that both makes you understand but also makes you want to shake them again and again and again.
I like the characters in this book. Chloe seems a little, hmm, a lot naïve and I think a lot of that comes from her privilege and her distinct lack of awareness when it comes to her privilege. The book is told in alternating NOW and THEN chapters and I know that while I was reading it, I kept thinking, Chloe, how can you not know? How can you not realize SOMETHING is going on? Its insanely frustrating but I think the idea is that she’s so used to the sort of out of normal things as the daughter of a celebrity that she just never stops to think about it really. You can see the way she sort of just floats through life, never really questioning things, in the way she says things to her best friend, who is decidedly less privileged than she is. I liked her a lot but I often grew very frustrated and impatient with her and I think, perhaps, that was the point. That people with privilege aren’t always necessarily terrible people but that they can be frustrating and hopeless when they don’t stop to recognize their privilege.
This is further proven with Chloe’s mother, who is at the heart of the crime and the scandal, and how long it takes her to even recognize that she’s even done anything wrong – “I was just trying to help my child!” She, too, was a character I really enjoyed reading but was seriously hard to relate to her at times because she too was so wrapped up in her naivety and privilege that I just wanted to shake her. Chloe’s sister, Isla, seemed to be the only sane and rational one and I related to her so much and enjoyed her the most on each and every page.
What I loved about this book is that its your typical contemporary YA novel where everything works out and the girl gets the boy and all of that. Chloe and her family face really big consequences for their actions and they lose a lot – friendships and jobs and relationships and so much and there’s no magic button at the end of the story that fixed everything and I appreciated that. As much as it did genuinely suck to watch Chloe and her family lose these things and there was a part of me that was like, come on best friend, forgive her! and things like that…I’m genuinely glad that’s not exactly how things panned out. I’m glad that the book felt genuine, realistic and really showed people getting consequences for once.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book, I thought it was very human and even with characters like these, flawed, over privileged, naive characters, I was still able to enjoy the book so much. It was intriguing from beginning to end and I did like the end wasn’t wrapped up in a neat bow – mild spoilers? I am used to romance from Julie so it was definitely weird NOT having one, sort of, but I thought the book was wonderful and you can see why she abandoned another project in order to focus on this one – she WANTED to write this book and it comes across on every single page. HIGHLY recommend!
4 out of 5 Stars