‘Girls with Bright Futures’ is a razor-sharp novel inspired by the college admissions scandal

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As the old saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. But in some cases, truth ends up giving fiction some great plot ideas. 

“Girls with Bright Futures” by Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman (SourceBooks) is a hilarious novel set at a Seattle private school where the parents can and will do just about anything to ensure that their children get coveted spots at the top universities. (If this brings to mind the recent Felicity Huffman/Lori Loughlin college admissions scandal, you’re not alone.) 

In this case, the school at the top of everyone’s list is Stanford. The California school has set parents into frenzied overdrive by notifying the Elliott Bay Academy guidance office that they’ll be accepting only one extra student this year in early admissions; the other spots have been taken by athletes. The school is Choice No. 1 for several seniors, including Brooke, the daughter of a tech giant and feminist icon named Alicia who has donated millions to the school with the understanding that her daughter will be a shoo-in. 

Alicia’s assistant Maren is a single mom who’s been working for her for over a decade without health insurance; her daughter Winnie is the valedictorian, and she’s also got her sights on Stanford. The only problem? If she gets in, her mom might be out of a job. Alicia is determined not to let Winnie take the spot away from average student Brooke. 

Then Kelly, a Stanford alum who met her husband there, has gone off the deep end to ensure that her daughter gets the place, even though she doesn’t have Alicia’s money. 

It all comes to a head when Winnie is involved in a hit-and-run electric scooter accident that leaves her in the hospital, fighting for her life. The night of the accident, Winnie receives a text warning her once again to back away from Stanford. 

With more than a splash of “Big Little Lies,” this is a timely, sharp, funny book guaranteed to generate a good book-club discussion.

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