Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pg. 69: Anisha Lakhani's "Schooled"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Schooled by Anisha Lakhani.

About the book, from the publisher:
“You’re making how much an hour?”
“Two hundred dollars.”
“Do you ride in on a pony?”

All she wants to do is teach. For Anna Taggert, an earnest Ivy League graduate, pursuing her passion as a teacher means engaging young hearts and minds. She longs to be in a place where she can be her best self, and give that best to her students.

Turns out it isn’t that easy.

Landing a job at an elite private school in Manhattan, Anna finds her dreams of chalk boards and lesson plans replaced with board families, learning specialists, and benefit-planning mothers. Not to mention the grim realities of her small paycheck.

And then comes the realization that the papers she grades are not the work of her students, but of their high-priced, college-educated tutors. After uncovering this underground economy where a teacher can make the same hourly rate as a Manhattan attorney, Anna herself is seduced by lucrative offers—one after another. Teacher by day, tutor by night, she starts to sample the good life her students enjoy: binges at Barneys, dinners at the Waverly Inn, and a new address on Madison Avenue.

Until, that is, the truth sets in.
Among the early praise for Schooled:
“If you count yourself among those who eagerly await the second season of Gossip Girl, Anisha Lakhani's debut novel Schooled might be just the thing to tide you over, as it takes yet another peek into the gilded lives of Manhattan's über-rich. Coming from the same family tree as The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries, Schooled is about recent Ivy League graduate Anna Taggert, who lands her dream job teaching at Langdon Hall School, an oh-so-exclusive Upper East Side private school (Ms. Lakhani taught English at Dalton). Anna is disturbed to find out that the majority of her students get by through the use of expensive private tutors—who basically do the work for them—until she's lured into taking advantage of the lucrative benefits herself. The plot will be familiar to anyone who has sampled the assistant-to-the-wealthy oeuvre; and much like its predecessors, Schooled's writing is breezy and fun, with winking references to fashion labels and N.Y.C. hot spots sprinkled generously throughout.”
—Sara Vilkomerson, The New York Observer

“I stayed up way past midnight, alternately laughing and cringing as I made plans to go and blow some money on designer clothes with all the money I'd save by home schooling my children.”
—Paulina Porizkova, author of A Model Summer and judge, America's Next Top Model

“By turns dishy, delightful, and hilarious, Anisha Lakhani’s debut novel is also a biting teach and tell. Required reading!”
—Claire Cook, author of Summer Blowout, Life’s a Beach and Must Love Dogs

“From the exclusive upper Eastside world of Chanel bags and Juicy Couture, Anisha Lakhani has captured the idiom, rituals and taboos of the society first-year teacher Anna Taggert encounters at a Manhattan private school. Part Margaret Mead, part Tina Fey, the author of Schooled provides a knowing, insightful, witty and delightful window into the aggressively successful families of her charges and provides a lesson on how to survive them. Besides all that, this book is fun to read. An entertaining, wickedly observant debut.”
—Diana Meehan, LA Times bestselling author of Learning Like a Girl: Educating Our Daughters in Schools of Their Own and co-founder of The Archer School For Girls

“Utterly terrifying and delicious. I inhaled this novel in hours.”
—Jane Green, author of The Beach House and Jemima J.

“Lakhani paints a darkly comic picture of what a five-figure tuition bill really gets you at an elite Manhattan private school. The former Dalton English teacher knows the territory, and it is bleak. Here's Anna, a newbie teacher with Ivy credentials whose passion for the low-paying teaching profession is cause for celebration at the upper-crust Langdon school, where as the exotic-looking newcomer, she is mistakenly identified as a coveted minority hire. With low pay and even lower expectations from teachers and parents, Anna realizes there's no way she can survive—until she learns about lucrative after-school tutoring gigs. And just like that, Anna's ideals go out the window. In a hilarious out-of-control spiral into obsession with all-things designer, expensive and showy, Anna transforms into someone who believes money can buy everything and everyone. There is redemption, of course, in the form of a teacher who bucks the system, and Anna discovers some of her students are pretty wonderful… the romp through an unsettling, soulless world of adults and children who'd rather coast through life than live it provides plenty of laughs.”
Publishers Weekly
Learn more about Schooled and its author at Anisha Lakhani's website.

Until 2006, Anisha Lakhani taught English at the Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Soon after she started teaching, she was named chair of the Middle School English Department. Lakhani received both her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Columbia University.

The Page 69 Test: Schooled.

--Marshal Zeringue