By Tina Jordan
Updated August 23, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

As Anne, a self-described ”college whisperer,” in Early Decision, shepherds five Chicago high school seniors through the application process, their stories emerge through late-night phone calls, fraught conversations with their parents, even drafts of their Common App essays. Overbearing moms and dads scheming to secure their kid a place at Harvard will find this novel more helpful than any nonfiction book on the market. But everyone else can enjoy Early Decision for what it is: a sweetly sharp modern-day comedy of manners about the brutally competitive college-admissions ordeal. B+