CLASS by Lucinda Rosenfeld


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This take-no-prisoners satire puts politically correct urbanites in their place for real.

Karen Kipple and her husband, Matt, both career activists in the nonprofit sector, have righteously enrolled their daughter in their zoned public elementary school, where “the white population…hovered around 20 percent.” However, Karen, like some other white parents, is concerned that she's sacrificed quality education for diversity. Among other dubious accomplishments, her daughter can recite the wedding date of Coretta and Martin Luther King—because “every month was Black History Month—except when it was Latino History Month.” A scuffle on the playground between a Jayyden and a Maeve further divides the parents along racial lines: “What that kid needs is a serious whupping” versus “With all due respect, violence is not the answer to violence.” Karen is so beached in the mud of responsible domesticity that it has affected even her dreams, “the majority of them so prosaic that she sometimes felt embarrassed when she woke up.” But this pill of a woman, depicted in deadpan, grimly hilarious detail, is about to cut loose—starting an extramarital affair with a billionaire she's canvassing for her nonprofit, stealing gas bills out of the trash so she can move her daughter to a whiter public school, then performing an insane Robin Hood maneuver that could land her in that most racially imbalanced environment of them all. Rosenfeld (The Pretty One, 2013) depicts Karen with such pitiless disdain that it's a welcome surprise when the plot gives her a chance at redemption. From its James Baldwin epigraph—“White people cannot, in the generality, be taken as models of how to live”—to the final pages, in which Karen decides not to inquire about the fate of young Jayyden to avoid appearing “like one of those well-meaning, college-educated white liberals who fetishize the deprivations of the underclass,” this book takes dead aim and doesn’t miss.

Comin’ at you “with a copy of Karl Marx’s Capital in one hand and a raisin bagel in the other.” Right on, Rosenfeld.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-316-26541-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2016


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