The novel is called Class, but it’s just as preoccupied with race, and Ms. Rosenfeld deserves a great deal of credit for taking on this minefield of a subject ... In a series of skillfully executed set pieces, Rosenfeld skewers the pretensions and preoccupations of women for whom 'parent' is both verb and competitive sport ... It’s easy to make fun of the artisanal-loving hipster bohos of Brooklyn, and many have done it before. Luckily, Ms. Rosenfeld is an astute anthropologist whose satire reaches fresh levels of absurdity ... Ms. Rosenfeld does not mean for us to like Karen all the time, and indeed, the character describes herself as a 'neurotic elitist.' But as we ponder the bigger questions the book poses about race and class in America, subjects bravely tackled by the author through this flawed character, it can be exhausting to be always inside Karen’s brain, with its ricocheting emotions and kamikaze self-analysis.
The author shows great insight plumbing Karen’s constant need for approval ... This timely novel captures every character in the worst light, and the grudge matches among Brooklyn’s liberal parentocracy are nastier than any playground brawl ... Whenever Karen spins out her web of scorn, she catches herself in it — and this reader, too ... Every time Karen offers her take on the multicultural experiment that is public education, I was reminded of the satirist Alexander Pope’s saying: 'All looks yellow to the Jaundiced Eye.' Therein lies Rosenfeld’s talent as well as her lineage.
Her work has long been a balancing act between satire and farce, between observation and cliché. But with Rosenfeld’s fifth novel, Class, the story of an overbearing mother in a gentrifying neighborhood, the scales have tipped. At the risk of being the person in the balcony shouting 'Play ‘Free Bird’!' I will say that Class had me missing the old Rosenfeld ... Her and Matt’s love for their daughter, though unflaggingly saccharine (pet names include 'whippersnapper' and 'Scooby Doobie'), is the most effective part of the book ... The premise of Class is a strong one — a take-no-prisoners racial romp and commentary on modern motherhood as told by a descendant of Tracy Flick...But the execution is too general to invest in the outcome and the result is a novel that reads like a summary of itself ... The narrative is padded with empty-calorie musings ... If Class is a bomb meant to be thrown at the hypocrisies of gentrified life, it’s as if the bomb went off in Rosenfeld’s hands.