Having gently skewered the college-application process (Acceptance, 2007), Coll trains her sights on another equally ridiculous tradition among certain upper-middle-class high-school graduates—the weeklong party at the beach.
As Jordan approaches her high school graduation in suburban Washington D.C., her friends start planning to rent a house at the Delaware shore for a week. Jordan, whose family moved East from Omaha her junior year, does not feel completely at home with her new friends and is secretly ambivalent about spending the week partying with them. Her parents, former teacher Leah and urban planner Charles, have been extremely protective of Jordan since her head injury playing soccer the year before and are critical of lenient parenting. Nevertheless, Leah agrees to host a meeting about the proposed rental for the clueless parents of Jordan’s friends, partly to prove she’s an involved parent, partly to experience Jordan’s fun vicariously. Already financially strapped, Charles is less enthusiastic. The beach week becomes one more tension point in an already shaky marriage. Soon all the parents have organized. They write up a pledge of good behavior for their daughters to sign and rent the girls a house assured that it belongs to a respected local author. Actually, the decrepit wreck—the realtor’s photos are of the house next door—belongs to the author’s ex-husband, whose mental health is questionable. Meanwhile the girls are also busy organizing—who is going to bring which illegal substance. When Jordan announces she wants to spend the week traveling with her new boyfriend, a college student from Tunisia, instead of with her friends, Leah and Charles push “beach week” as a safer alternative. Then they notice one of Jordan’s friends in a porn movie and change their minds again. But asked to chaperone, Charles jumps at the chance to do some partying of his own. Mayhem follows.
A little too reassuring (nothing truly bad happens), but Coll can be hysterically funny about parental idiocy.