Early Decision : Based on a True Frenzy
by Lacy Crawford

Overview -

In Early Decision , debut novelist Lacy Crawford draws on 15 years of experience traveling the world as a highly sought-after private college counselor to illuminate the madness of college admissions.

Working one-on-one with Tiger-mothered, burned-out kids, Anne "the application whisperer" can make Harvard a reality.  Read more...

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More About Early Decision by Lacy Crawford

In Early Decision, debut novelist Lacy Crawford draws on 15 years of experience traveling the world as a highly sought-after private college counselor to illuminate the madness of college admissions.

Working one-on-one with Tiger-mothered, burned-out kids, Anne "the application whisperer" can make Harvard a reality. Early Decision follows five students over one autumn as Anne helps them craft their college essays, cram for the SATs, and perfect the Common Application. It seems their entire future is on the line--and it is. Though not because of Princeton and Yale. It's because the process, warped as it is by money, connections, competition, and parental mania, threatens to crush their independence just as adulthood begins.

Whether you want to get in or just get out, with wit and heart, Early Decision explodes the secrets of the college admissions race.

  • ISBN-13: 9780062240613
  • ISBN-10: 0062240617
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: August 2013
  • Page Count: 294
  • Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.01 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Contemporary Women
Books > Fiction > Family Life
Books > Fiction > Coming of Age

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-09-02
  • Reviewer: Staff

This entertaining tale of upper class parents and adolescent learning curves points a keen eye at the college application process and the agony and ecstasy of getting that acceptance letter. Twenty-seven-year-old Anne with her polished Princeton background has somehow fallen into the college essay coaching business and is quite proficient. Enter Margaret and Gideon Blanchard and their daughter Sadie who has been groomed from birth to attend Duke as a legacy. Anne sets to help Sadie polish her essays and in the process they discover each other's strengths and weaknesses. Anne is dealing with an unruly upstairs neighbor who hates her dog and may be stealing her newspaper, a philandering actor boyfriend, and her own unfinished aspirations, while her students deal with their sexuality, finding their voice, and escaping their parents' expectations and jealousies. Wealth and privilege are in no way major indicators of who gets in where, and sometimes they hold the perfect student back, but with the right help and support, such as Anne supplies, those students find their way despite themselves. Sprinkled with tips for writers—"it isn't so much about editing as it is about aligning execution to intention," essays in various forms of re-write, and a very satisfying twist at the end, the reader is lead through a long, dark supervised High School hallway and off to the freedom of the great lawn. (Sept.)

BookPage Reviews

Required reading: Lessons on mean mamas and helicopter parenting

School is back in session. After the homeroom bell rings, grab one (or both) of these novels and enjoy a quick, humorous tutorial on how not to act while educating the next generation. Debut authors Gill Hornby and Lacy Crawford deliver a welcome dose of playground escapism.

British author Gill Hornby got the idea for her first novel, The Hive, while reading Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes, a nonfiction book that Tina Fey used as the basis for her hit movie Mean Girls. In The Hive, Hornby observes that teenage girls aren’t the only catty females at school: Their mothers can be worse.

The children who attend the upscale British academy of St. Ambrose have started another school year, and their mothers are busy creating their schoolyard cliques and dramas to rival those of their children. Top mum Beatrice rules her minions with daily text invites for her famous workouts, which take place after the school drop-off. Will you be invited to Bea’s group run, her Pilates session or maybe, just maybe, the elusive power walk?

Then actual catastrophe strikes at St. Ambrose. The headmaster informs the parents that they do not have funds to complete construction of the new library. Here, the plot gets a bit cliché: Moms mobilize with Bundt cakes, lunch ladders and other fundraising events, but are too preoccupied to be bothered with their children.

Still, Hornby, the sister of author Nick Hornby, is a perceptive writer, using her comedic talents to investigate the minds of these women even as she exploits their ridiculousness. The Hive does just that—with a healthy serving of British humor thrown in for our reading pleasure. This is a book that might make any mother of school-age children just a little bit nervous.


Lacy Crawford’s Early Decision is the story of five Chicago high school seniors, their college essay-writing process and their well-paid essay consultant, Anne. What makes this novel so fascinating is that Crawford has dramatized her personal experience in the college admissions world. For 15 years, she helped teenagers perfect their essays, gaining access to a network of mega-rich parents who relied on her to help their children earn acceptance to some of the best schools in the country.

Crawford expertly fictionalizes some of the crazy and vicious behavior exhibited by parents who claim they only want what is best for their child. Readers will be rooting for all five young adults—four wealthy, one from a working-class background, all relatable—to find their own voices and their own paths.

This is a winner of a novel. Part comedy, part exposé, it can open the door to debate about the intensity of the college application process. Early Decision should be required reading for every parent of a child who is embarking on the college admissions journey.

BAM Customer Reviews