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December's Must-Reads: Top Books to Close Out the Year with a Bang

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Rebecca Hanover | Thrill Ride About Two Women Whose Lives Take a Dangerous Turn

The Last Applicant
Rebecca Hanover




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Powell's Books


Indie BookShop

November 2023
On Sale: October 24, 2023
Featuring: Audrey Singer; Sarah Price
ISBN: 1662513623
EAN: 9781662513626
Kindle: B0BMS3BSCV
Hardcover / e-Book
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Also by Rebecca Hanover:
The Last Applicant, November 2023


1--What is the title of your latest release?


2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

It’s an emotional thrill ride about two women whose lives take a dangerous turn in the high-stakes arena of private school admissions.

3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

For this particular book, it was a no-brainer. Once I got going with the concept, I knew it had to be set in Manhattan. Not every book idea serves you an obvious and perfect setting, but this one did.

4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?

I’d hang out with either or both of them, and I’d probably see a lot more of myself in them than I should admit here.

5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?

Audrey: gives-no-fucks, driven, wounded. Sarah: desperate, loyal, surprising.

6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

That I am in love with italics and em-dashes, and it will be my life-long struggle to curb my usage of them. In all seriousness: I learned that my storytelling skills were at least somewhat translatable from writing young adult to adult, and that I could stretch myself more than I thought I could.

7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

I edit some as I go, for sure, but I mostly wait till I’m done.

8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

Matcha lattes with almond milk. Avocado toast. Green smoothies. Sushi of any kind.

9--Describe your writing space/office!

I may soon, for the first time in my life, have a dedicated office space with actual floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and a legit desk chair, and I cannot wait! Until then, I’ll continue to do what I always have—write anywhere and everywhere. Lying in bed. Perched at the desk my 12-year-old never uses. At the kitchen table when the house is quiet and everyone’s at work/school.

10--Who is an author you admire?

Ruth Ware. She’s my auto-buy author; I read her books the week they’re published. Her stories are propulsive in the way I strive to be with my own, and she creates such accessible main characters you want to root for.

11--Is there a book that changed your life?

In middle school, JANE EYRE, because I’d never stayed up all night reading a “classic” and was utterly transfixed by Jane’s story. I realized, then, that even “classics” could employ twisty, suspenseful storytelling. JANE EYRE is full of unexpected card turnovers! Deranged wife locked in the attic? Windfall from a long-lost relative? When you think about it, it was one of the first domestic suspense novels.

12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.

Six, or maybe seven years ago, I got the call that my first young adult book, THE SIMILARS, was going to published. The details are fuzzy now because I was in such disbelief, I could barely process the news. More recently, the call from my agent—I believe it was a Facetime—for THE LAST APPLICANT was equally exciting, though I was able to handle it a bit more level-headedly. Still, I had been very nervous when it was on submission. I experienced a whole different set of feelings around it, since it was my first adult book, and writing it was a much more vulnerable and raw process. I felt connected to this book in a way that was equal parts thrilling and terrifying.

13--What’s your favorite genre to read?

It’s a tie between psychological thrillers and young adult. No surprise there, since those are also the genres I love to write.

14--What’s your favorite movie?

I showed my kids the BACK TO THE FUTURE movies during lockdown and mostly watched their faces (rather than the screen) to see their reactions and “relive” it all through their eyes. The mental gymnastics they went through to figure out how the Delorean was going to get to Marty between movies 2 and 3 was a sight to behold. It broke everyone’s brains and I LOVED IT.

15--What is your favorite season?

Easily Fall! When I used to live in New York City, I’d count down the days until the leaves would start to change, and you’d need a coat (but not gloves or a scarf), and the air was crisp but not too cold to wander aimlessly around Central Park. Halloween weather—sign me up!

Living in San Francisco the last fifteen years, I don’t experience traditional seasons in that sense. It’s pretty much always a perpetual 65 degrees. Constant Fall. San Francisco weather suits me perfectly. I have no problem with the fog or the fact that you always need an extra layer, just in case.

16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

These days, in the most low-key way possible! In my opinion, it’s much more fun to attend someone else’s birthday party than your own. It’s too much pressure when everyone in the room is someone you could spend two hours catching up with, and you only get five minutes with each. Plus, I have three kids between the ages of 12 and 4, so a day where I get to do yoga or a workout, read a good book, and have a sushi dinner is sort of my dream. I’m not a homebody. I’m really not! (Okay, I am).

17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

I’m still reeling over SQUID GAME. I’ve watched it several times trying to figure out exactly how it accomplished what it did. It’s the kind of story that seems so simple, but the writing and execution—and especially the character work—borders on genius.

18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

Sushi. Hands-down, sushi. Is this my third mention of sushi in this interview?! I’ll try any type of raw fish, and I usually overorder, but I have no trouble finishing and refuse to leave any rolls on the plate.

19--What do you do when you have free time?

What is that, exactly? Kidding, sort of. Between my three kids and writing, there isn’t a whole lot of time for hobbies. But I try to fit in exercise, yoga, chats with friends, date nights with my husband (we love trying every type of cuisine out there!), travel, and of course, reading.

20--What can readers expect from you next?

Another domestic suspense! But set in a completely different world.

THE LAST APPLICANT by Rebecca Hanover

The Last Applicant

From award-winning author Rebecca Hanover comes an emotional thrill ride about two women whose lives take a dangerous turn in the high-stakes arena of private school admissions.

Audrey Singer revels in her position as the admissions director of an exclusive Manhattan private school. Parents cater to her whims and desires, desperate to give their children an edge. Audrey’s power is undeniable; privilege comes with the territory. Her perfect marriage completes the glossy picture of her life.

Until the arrival of the neurotic, vulnerable Sarah Price. Determined to get her son into the city’s most coveted kindergarten class, Sarah inserts herself into Audrey’s world, testing boundaries at every turn. For Sarah, everything Audrey has is a potential target: her job, her friends…even her marriage.

But what seems to be another ploy by an overachieving mother takes a dark and ominous turn. Sarah seems to be hiding secrets of her own. Are her designs on Audrey’s life purely about getting what she wants for her son?

Or is there something more sinister at play in this cutthroat game?


Thriller Psychological [Lake Union Publishing, On Sale: October 24, 2023, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781662513626 / ]

Buy THE LAST | Kindle | | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | | | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Rebecca Hanover

Rebecca Hanover

Rebecca Hanover is the New York Times bestselling author of THE SIMILARS duology. After graduating from Stanford University with a BA in English and drama, Rebecca joined the writing team of the CBS daytime drama GUIDING LIGHT, where she earned an Emmy Award. Still, she never lost her love of books—particularly YA. She now writes Young Adult as well as adult novels full-time from her home in San Francisco, where she enjoys matcha lattes and a complete lack of seasons. When she isn’t writing, she can be found in a yoga class or reading anything Dav Pilkey with her husband and three kiddos.





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