Author Interview: Admission by Julie Buxbaum
In 2019, the college admissions world was rocked by a 7 year admissions scandal. High profile parents had been paying to get their kids into elite schools – and now the world knows about it. What was left out were the underlying pieces, which BookCrushin fav, Julie Buxbaum, explores in her new story, Admission. Check out our interview below, and pick up Admission, out now!
Admissionby Julie Buxbaum
Published by: Delacorte Press
on December 1, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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?
Interview with Julie Buxbaum
We can all remember where we were the day the admission scandal broke. At what moment after did you decide to delve into that world with Admission?
As soon as the scandal broke, I became immediately obsessed. I read everything I could get my hands on, and because I used to be a lawyer, I even read through the 500 page complaint. And no matter how much material I consumed, I still felt unsatisfied. There seemed to be a much larger story that I wanted to understand about blurred lines and ethical parenting and what it means to be complicit in a larger broken system. I wanted to know what it would be like to be one of the kids at the center—what were the messages they were getting and what did that say about how we are raising a generation? In response, I created Chloe Berringer, my main character. I was 2/3 of the way through a draft of a totally different novel, and so I called my agent and asked her, “Would it be totally bananas of me to put aside the book I’ve been working on for almost a year to write a novel about the college admissions scandal?” Once I told her my vision for the book though, she was on board. Next, we went to my editor, who luckily was also 100% in. From there, I started immediately drafting.
This isn’t the first time you’ve explored a fictional take on a real life event. What knowledge did you bring to writing Admission after writing Hope and Other Punchlines?
I hadn’t really connected the two books in my mind at all until recently when I realized that I must have some interest in the concept of people who are forced to represent something larger than themselves. Hope and Other Punchlines is a book that required a ton of research about 9/11 and 9/11 syndrome and the long term aftermath of grief. With this book, although at first I read a ton because I was fascinated, I quickly realized I needed to stop researching and instead create my own fictional world. I didn’t want Admission to be only “a ripped from the headlines” sort of story. I wanted to write a deeper examination of the questions the scandal unmasked and therefore had to separate the book from the real life events.
What do you want college hopefuls to know about their future?
We live in a culture that venerates brand names and too many people evaluate colleges based on where they rank in US News and World report, instead of focusing on what school might be best fit for them. Our self worth shouldn’t be tied to where we went to college or even if we go to college. Your value as a person, your future, the things that will end up mattering the most in your life are not going to be determined—were never going to be determined—by a couple of “We regret to inform yous,” as much as it sometimes feels otherwise. Work on becoming the best, most resilient version of yourself—which is not the same thing as the most outwardly impressive—and you’ll be just fine.