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Admission Paperback – April 8, 2010
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From The New Yorker
Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, Portia is in a rut. She has been living with an English professor for sixteen years, and they have little of substance to say to one another these days. She has few friends and little contact with her sixty-eight year old mother, Susannah, a gregarious do-gooder who spends much of her time volunteering for a host of worthy causes. Unexpectedly, during her visit to the Quest School (whose mission is "to open doors, not close them") in rural New Hampshire, Portia meets a warm and compassionate teacher named John Halsey who remembers her from their days at Dartmouth, as well as Jeremiah Balakian, a seventeen-year-old autodidact who has terrible grades but is a zealous and voracious reader.Read more ›
Portia Nathan is an admissions officer at Princeton University who is assigned to the Northeast. Her duties include traveling to schools in her area to give presentations on Princeton to high school seniors. On her visit to one school, she encounters a man who remembers her from their days at Dartmouth. She doesn't remember him, but she ends up sleeping with him that evening. Portia's not sure why she did this because she's content enough in her domestic life - she's been living with her longtime boyfriend, Mark, an English professor at Princeton.
As she and Mark are traveling to see Portia's mother for the holidays, Mark tells her that he can't go on and she discovers that he has been having an affair and his other girlfriend is pregnant. He returns to Princeton and Portia continues on to her mother's alone. Upon arrival, Portia finds that her mother has taken in a pregnant seventeen year old and intends to help her raise the baby. All of this news throws Portia into a deep depression that leaves her barely able to function. Things from her past come back to haunt her and she has to deal with a secret from long ago that she'd like to forget.
Because Portia is such an aloof character, I found Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz a little slow at the beginning, but once I got into it, I didn't want to put it down. I found the details of the admission process at Ivy League colleges fascinating and found myself thankful that I went to college before U. S. News & World Report started their college rankings.Read more ›
Basically, the author of this book makes the reader work too hard to get to the meat of this tale. The book is bloated by long periods of introspection and memories. I found myself idly flipping page after page of long paragraphs without breaks, mostly periods of monotonous inner searching by the main character. The love story had so much potential, and it could have been amazing had the book itself been better paced and not broken up with so much inner searching and character monologing. The author is a great writer of fun, quirky, and realistic dialogue, but this book should have been edited down by about 200 pages. There are too many breaks between good scenes to try to build back story that could have been better told during a quick conversation between characters.
All in all, this book is just a chore to get through to try to find enjoyable parts. There are some funny moments, and I really wanted to like the characters and to care about their story. But the author made me work too hard to do it.
The protagonist is not particularly likable. She seems one of those dull women, in a dull unfullfilling relationship that you see from a distance and wonder why and how anyone would live like that. Well, that's one thing this novel did - explain how people can stand to lead stale, seemingly pointless lives where nothing ever happens, devoid of passions, devoid of excitement and meaning. Halfway through the book I realized literally two things had happened - she boned the guy from Quest and her long time partner got another woman pregnant and ran out on her. (The plot points tend to come out of nowhere, shortly after they are introduced, which is unsatisfying.) I'll repeat - Portia isn't a likable or sympathetic character, and there isn't really much need to empathize with her either. So what's the point? Portia's only passion in life is explaining - repeatedly, in unnecessary minute detail - that Ivy League schools take no joy in rejecting applicants and how guilty she is that people assume otherwise. Literally about 300 pages of the book are spent expounding that point.
I knew I wasn't going to end up anywhere meaningful when I felt no guilt at skipping pages in a novel I'd never read before.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was good. I still would like to know more about how Portia resoled her feelings with her mother, son and friend.Published 2 months ago by Singapore
I almost didn't read it after seeing some of the reviews, but I was engaged from the beginning. I found the admissions process interesting and important to the development of the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by G. Dedman
This is a gem of a novel, full of disturbing insights about the process of Ivy League admissions. But that's not why you should read it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by jennifer hanlon wilde
This is a (very detailed) tome on how to get into an Ivy League college that masquerades as a novel. Helicopter parents of high school juniors and seniors will love it! Read morePublished 9 months ago by Cathryn Conroy
The beginning was so slow that I almost stopped reading. But I gave it a chance and with a change from prose to dialogue, I was intrigued. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Annie E.
This is a fascinating story about a woman admissions officer at Princeton. How Jean Korelitz learned so much about the college admission process, I don't know. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Sarah T. Dowling