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Getting In Paperback – September 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Comic novelist Boylan (The Constellations) takes a road trip on the elite New England college circuit with four interviewing high-school seniors and three incompetent adults, all in a Winnebago, and along the way manages to drive his farcical premise into the ground. The story focuses on confused young Dylan, who feels as inadequate as his spineless father, Ben, a widower reeling from the bankruptcy of his computer business. Dylan hides a secret from Ben (it's given away almost immediately, though the author keeps trying to wring suspense from it), shared by his partying jock cousin Juddy, son of Ben's brother, Lefty, a wealthy car salesman who resents Ben for attending college. Juddy is a partier, and fencing makes him feel like a superhero?as it should when Harvard woos him so obsequiously. Filling out the cast of stock characters are Lefty's new wife, Chloe, a gold digger seeking a tuition sugar daddy for her daughter Allison, a pretty musician; Allison; and Allison's boyfriend, Polo MacNeil, a haughty Manhattanite who says things like "my good man" and "don't you know." These characters wander across college campuses (which only incidentally affect the story) playing out tired parts and plots: missing Harvard because of Boston's traffic, teaching each other platitudes and overreacting to petty dramas. Throughout, character and plausibility serve the author's wants rather than the story's needs. This comedy is much too broad to go deep. Film rights to New Line Cinema. (Sept.) FYI: The author teaches at Colby, one of the featured colleges. A portion of the book's proceeds will go to the J. Finney Boylan Scholarship in the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Boylan takes wicked aim at the college mystique--from admissions interviews to school traditions--in this funny, poignant novel, which has already been optioned for the big screen. Three adults and four high-school seniors undertake a journey of self-discovery when they set off in a Winnebago on a tour of eastern colleges. As they travel their route, beginning with Yale and ending with Wesleyan, they learn volumes about themselves, one another, and their complex connections. Ben and his son, Dylan, deal with long-kept secrets; Lefty gets his comeuppance for betraying his brother, Ben; Allison sees the truth about the self-important boyfriend who keeps pressuring her for sex; Chloerealizes she's sold herself to fund her daughter's education; and laid-back Juddy, ostensibly the least likely to succeed, smoothly maneuvers himself into the college of his choice. Using a rich layer of irony, Boylan cleverly manipulates the lives of this strangely assorted group, giving readers not only a good deal to laugh at but a good deal to think about as well. Stephanie Zvirin
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"Soil" by Julie Kornegay
Drawing on elements of dark comedy and modern dysfunction, Kornegay’s novel is about the gravitational pull of one man’s apocalypse and the hope that maybe he can be reeled in from the brink. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446674176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446674171
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,635,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jenny Boylan is the author of ten books, including the brand-new I'M LOOKING THROUGH YOU, a memoir about growing up in a haunted house, as well as a reflection on the nature of "being haunted." Her 2003 memoir, SHE'S NOT THERE was one of the first bestselling works by a transgender American. A three-time guest of the Oprah Winfrey program, she has twice appeared on Larry King Live as well as on the Today Show. She has been the subject of a documentary on CBS News' 48 Hours, and in the spring of 2007, Jenny played herself on several episodes of ABC's All My Children. She has been parodied with eerie accuracy by Will Forte on "Saturday Night Live." Since 1988, Jenny has been a professor of English at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Uniquely structured, this book takes the form of a college tour across New England. For anyone who has ever dreamed of strolling through Harvard Yard, getting lost on the rolling hills of Middlebury or being tapped by the Yale Society, this book puts a new spin on the ancient rite of passage facing high school seniors across America: college selection. But in reality, while this books operates under the premise of college selection, it functions more as a searing psychological portrait of Americans young and old, men and women struggling to cope with the mistakes of their past and retain hopes for a better future. Boylan brilliantly juxtaposes the psyche of the teenager confused by not knowing who or what to believe in but having an entire lifetime ahead with that of the adult, who having endured the trials and tribulations of age, must face the yearnings to be young again and start over. A very good read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "spiritualsister" on June 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am a fan of Jim Boylan and have enjoyed his previous books, but I particularly liked Getting In. The process of getting accepted into a college becomes an avenue to explore how one presents oneself, what constitutes success, what motivates us... all in a funny, tender look at growing up, finding oneself and being true to oneself. Sensitive understanding of dynamics of parenting, the college admissions process, and ties that bind in families. An entertaining book that will make you laugh, and if you are my age, remember when it all seemed so terribly important to the rest of your life what a college admission officer thought of you.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read "Getting In" when it first came out a few years ago, and found it to be a sweet and funny look at the nightmare that is the college admission process. Boylan is an insightful writer who speaks from life and cares about his lost characters. I was, however, disturbed by the rather adolescent reviews I saw posted here on Amazon.com--calling the book boring and worthy of toilet paper. Boylan never claims the book as a guide on how to get into college, nor does Boylan claim to have all the answers. If you want a "how to" guide on getting into college, buy yourself something from Fiske or Peterson's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MicahA on October 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
It is suggested that one is supposed to suspend reality when reading a novel, as a novel is a work of fiction, but this is difficult when the story is about events that many people have experienced: Trying to get into college. First, getting into an ivy league university is much more difficult than touring for interviews. Secondly, this main character doesn't seem smart enough for this to have even been something he was considering.

The story is about a boy, Dylan, who driving to ivy league colleges with his dysfunctional family trying to get in - as the title suggests. The story is actually well described on the front of the book buy author and professor Richard Russo when he says "what it is really about is our universal fear that we are not good enough." This is certainly true, as each of the characters suffers from feelings of low self worth and masks it in different ways (some display confidence when it is obviously not there, some promiscuity, others just vomit).

I could go on, but I don't feel the need, because besides the problems I mentioned in the first paragraph, the book is pleasant. Obviously written by someone with a romantic view of higher education, which I appreciate (the author, James - who is now Jenny Boylan is a university professor in Maine), and the characters are generally likeable. The writing is not bad at all, although somewhat simplistic which only contributes to its pleasantness. If you can find it cheap it is worth a look through, but it is not something to run to the shop for.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Gonzalez on February 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the bio She's Not There (by the same author) and it's fantasic! I loved the writing style and the way the story was told so I decided to see what else had been writen. Getting In looked cute so I gave it a chance. It's not a terrible book but it's not the kind of thing I made all my friends read either. If your looking for a great well written book I hightly recomment She's Not There instead.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was in the library today, and the attractive cover of this book interested me. I picked it up, started reading it in Physics and was finished by Government. A quick read -- simplistic characters and an aimless plot tend to save time. Think Princeton Review's College Guide with some gratuitous sex thrown in. Then again, anyone who can write, "His wiener was giant in there, like some burrowing gopher trying to dig its way out of his underwear" with any seriousness whatsoever deserves accolades. A pity Boylan didn't begin the book with that sentence. He'd have won the Bulwer-Lytton contest easily.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "spiritualsister" on June 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am a fan of Jim Boylan and have enjoyed his previous books, but I particularly liked Getting In. The process of getting accepted into a college becomes an avenue to explore how one presents oneself, what constitutes success, what motivates us... all in a funny, tender look at growing up, finding oneself and being true to oneself. Sensitive understanding of dynamics of parenting, the college admissions process, and ties that bind in families. An entertaining book that will make you laugh, and if you are my age, remember when it all seemed so terribly important to the rest of your life what a college admission officer thought of you.
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