Book Review – Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford

I read a lot of books.

Okay, maybe not a lot. In my fantasy life I read a lot of books. I’m always reading something, but I’m a slow reader and only seem to have time to read before bed, and reading puts me to sleep so it takes me a really long time to read a book. Like, if someone says, “It’s a really fast read, it will take you two days,” it will probably take me two weeks.

But I digress… I read (not) a lot of books and I recommend them to my friends if I like them (You HAVE to read this book!), but so far I haven’t reviewed any on my blog. I don’t think. I’m too lazy (make that blazy) to look through my archives and check. So we’ll call this my first book review.

Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford

Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford


This is the story of Anne, a 27-year-old ambivalent college essay coach, and five of the students she is coaching through the college essay process. The author used to be a college essay coach herself, so she knows what she’s talking about. (Or rather writing about.) Remember when you The Devil Wears Prada and thought to yourself, “There is no way someone could treat their assistant that terribly,” but knew that there was? Or when you read The Nanny Diaries and thought, “I can’t believe there are parents that horrible,” but knew that there were? This book is like that, but about the college application process. Total insider stuff.

If you are a parent who is hoping to send your offspring to college one day, or just sent your child recently, I think you will enjoy this book immensely. And if you are like me, who is knee deep in the gut-wrenching, anxiety-inducing, nightmarishly overwhelming task of helping your child wade through The Common Application, you will love it.

If you don’t have kids, you can still read it, but I will admit that this book probably isn’t for you. (Unless you, yourself, just went through the college application process. Then trust me, you’ll dig it.)

Ms. Crawford, like our protagonist Anne, must have been very good at her job because she is one hell of a writer – this book is extremely well-written. It will piss you off, make you laugh out loud, and break your heart. It does a great job of fictionalizing the college application process, while also giving you some very good intel and insight.

Warning: You will want to hit most of the parents in the book upside the head with a very heavy laptop. On the flip side, you’ll be smugly patting yourself on the back, because you are certainly nothing like the helicopter parents and tiger moms in the book. At least I’m not. (No matter what Chandler says!)

So, if you like to read (a little or a lot) and have visions of your son or daughter attending Harvard, Stanford, or UCLA, or perhaps a highly selective liberal arts college, or even the state university ten miles away, I highly suggest reading this book. The earlier the better.

Applying for School

My friend’s son is applying to a private middle school. I’m in the process of high-school-junior-year-searching-for-college-stress, so I really do feel her pain. Of course her search is much easier. In the first place, it’s middle school. And she’s not even searching – her older son goes to the high school. I’m pretty sure her soon-to-be sixth grader is locked in – you know, legacy status and all.

But still, there are some steps they have to go through. Formalities. They have to fill out an application. There might be an interview involved. And her son has to write an essay.



Oh the dreaded application essay. I’ve been hyperventilating over contemplating the college essay prompts from the Common Application that Chandler has to choose from. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m not applying to college. Those prompts are hard.

For example, here’s one I’ll take a stab at:

  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

I experience failure all the time. You see, I’ve written a book. I think it’s awesome. My mom and all my friends tell me its awesome too. (Except for the part when my mom told me my protagonist was a bit whiny. Or maybe that was one of my friends. Whatever.) I’ve submitted it to several agents and they do not think it’s awesome. Most have rejected it outright.

A couple asked for a partial and one requested a full manuscript, but they ended up rejecting it too.

One very junior reader at a literary agency seemed to like it and passed it on to some senior staff members. They suggested she might be better suited for a career in retail. (Okay, I might have made that last part up.)

This affected me by making me dive face first into my secret stash of sea salt and turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds from Trader Joe’s and chase it down with my not-so-secret stash of freezer vodka. Every time.

I’ve learned that dark chocolate goes better with wine than with vodka. And also that I must be a big dum dum who is quite possibly incapable of learning, because I keep querying that damn book and pairing dark chocolate with the wrong alcoholic beverage.


I think it’s a good thing I already have my degree.

But back to my friend and her son’s quest to be accepted to a particular private middle school (which for the purpose of this post we’ll call Awesome Middle School). She shared her son’s application essay with me and it is so spectacular that I told her I needed to share it with you. Here it is:

What gifts can you bring to Awesome Middle School?

I bring a few gifts to Awesome Middle School, such as my strength as a leader, my athletic abilities, and my level of knowledge. The reason I said I am a good leader is because everyone is afraid of me, and it’s not my fault, it’s my height. I mean it’s not my fault that I’m five four, but it comes in handy sometimes telling people to be quiet. Also I’m not that scary once you know me. I have a good sense of humor, and am decent all around at sports playing defense. Defense is my best position in most sports except football, where I play offensive line. My grades are good all around and I have a love for reading an am really good at it.

The kid is obviously a shoo-in. Even without the legacy status. Maybe we can have him come over and help Chandler with his application essay. It couldn’t hurt.


Photo credit: Chris Drumm via