Title: Girls with Bright Futures
Author: Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman
Genre: Domestic Thriller
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark, Recorded Books
Source: ARC via NetGalley
Length: 402 p./11hrs, 15min
Publishing Date: 02 Feb 2021

Wealth and class stories usually linger either in New York City or Los Angeles. It’s where we expect them. For most people, Seattle is that place Grey’s Anatomy takes place or where it rains all of the time (it doesn’t). As postcard-worthy as this city nestled into the mountains is, it’s important not to forget all of the major companies who also make their home here and its effect on the local economy. And where there are class struggles, futures at stake, you can always count on elite private school parents ready to murder to make sure their kid ends up in an Ivy League. I wish I was kidding.

In Girls with Bright Futures, Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman craft a story around three women, not unlike Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Alicia is a powerful CEO with celebrity status and an endless amount of financial resources; Maren has been Alicia’s personal assistant for over a decade and makes enough to support her and her daughter, but not enough to afford health insurance let alone college; and Kelly, who fits somewhere in the middle economically, but is an alum of Stanford — where the daughters of these three women have their sights set on the one spot promised for an Elliot Bay Academy student.

Unfortunately, Maren knew if she kept pushing him, he would run a background check on her — which would reveal the one stain destined to define her forever. And then he would never believe another word she uttered. She was almost out of moves.

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman, Girls Burn Brighter

Similar to the genre of thriller where women will do anything to get a baby, these women (and even some of the men) are willing to do anything to make sure their child’s future looks the way they (the parent) imagined it would. What remains a consistent trope in fiction and reality is the complete disregard for what the child actually wants. What Girls with Bright Futures does a great job doing, though, is demonstrating the physical and emotional toll of having to live up to what can seem like impossible expectations. Of not having any say in your own life. This fear of loss of control seems to be the pushing the women forward as they try to fight to give their child the best chance. There’s a transference of high school anxieties the parents have hung onto that they set on the shoulders of their daughters and can’t help but returning to that same cut-throat, Mean Girl mindset.

The truth was, she didn’t know what he, or anyone, is capable of doing. Herself included.

Tracy Dobmeier and Wendy Katzman, Girls Burn Brighter

For fans of Big Little Lies and The Undoing, Girls Burn Brighter is a sinister, entertaining, and timely college admissions thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audiobook of.

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