Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lucy Crawford

A directionless young woman experiences a crisis of faith while tutoring wealthy high school students on their college application essays.

Sometimes when I’ve read books created around a specialized vocation, I get bored with the tedium of work. Too much minutia about the day to day operations gets me down. I felt that Early Decision was appropriately balanced, but still dragged a bit for me in the execution of the plot. I never really connected with Anne, the beleagured protagonist, mostly because I was only told that she was good at her job, but never actually saw her excelling. In fact, her quarter-life crisis seems to come about because she finally encounters students that she can’t help. In a few cases, I felt like she hadn’t earned her fee–and I say this as a career freelancer who gets the kind of life Anne is living. I never saw what made her special, and heard too much about how she felt that her life was amounting to nothing. I couldn’t help but agree with her, but had no reason to cheer her on because I didn’t know what her passions were. It’s a tricky thing, telling a story about someone who doesn’t know what she wants out of life without turning off the audience. I felt like Anne would make a better IRL friend than she does a character in a book. That said, the writing is solid and the secondary characters quite interesting, not to mention the peek inside the college application process is harrowing and filled with drama. So I would call my criticisms a mere nitpick.

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