June 10, 2010
Author: Jean Hanff Korelitz
Publisher: Grand Central
Pub. Date: April 8, 2010
“Admissions. Admission. Aren’t there two sides to the word? And two opposing sides…It’s what we let in, but it’s also what we let out.”
For years, 38-year-old Portia Nathan has avoided the past, hiding behind her busy (and sometimes punishing) career as a Princeton University admissions officer and her dependable domestic life. Her reluctance to confront the truth is suddenly overwhelmed by the resurfacing of a life-altering decision, and Portia is faced with an extraordinary test. Just as thousands of the nation’s brightest students await her decision regarding their academic admission, so too must Portia decide whether to make her own ultimate admission.
Admission is at once a fascinating look at the complex college admissions process and an emotional examination of what happens when the secrets of the past return and shake a woman’s life to its core.
The book “Admission” by Jean Hanff Korelitz is a rollercoaster ride of emotions that leaves the reader somewhat high, yet somewhat disappointed at the end.
The story centers around Portia Nathan a thirty eight year old Princeton admissions officer that just got her big wish to be stationed on the northeastern cost of the United States. This is the big break that Portia has been waiting for and she can’t wait to dive in. Unfortunately for Portia her dive turns into a fifty foot free for all that sends her emotional life spiraling out of control. This dive starts when she meets her old college acquaintance John Halsey at a new school called “Quest School”. This dive becomes steeper when, on the way to her eccentric mother’s house, her boyfriend of sixteen years informs her that he’s leaving her for his pregnant girlfriend. This start’s Portia’s emotional look at her life as she continues her job as a admission officer at Princeton.
The reason for my use of the rollercoaster analogy at the beginning of the review was because reading this book was a bit like a rollercoaster. Complete with soundtrack that was going off in my head. There were parts of the book that were very compelling and I read quickly. Then there was equally tedious and long parts that I wish would just end.
Portia, herself, didn’t come off as endearing as I believe the author was trying to make her. There were times in the book that she came off a bit high-handed and needed a smack down. Other times I wanted to hand her a Zoloft and send her to a shrink. Then other times, I would have loved to sit down and have coffee with her and pick her brain.
Many of the other characters were somewhat two dimensional and it made it hard to care about them. I mean I’m all for the eccentric mother, but I would have liked to see some more dimension to her. Such as a reason why she chose to raise Portia by herself, why she is so eccentric, and what motivates her to do the things she does. All in all, my soundtrack for this book would include “It’s all coming back to me now” by Celine Dion, “Girl on the verge” by Sarah Hudson, “Hunted” by Poe, and the main theme song from the new Emma movie. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a mellower Rebecca Wells. I say this because Jean’s writing style is very similar to Rebecca’s, but she lacks Rebecca’s trademark wit.
Rating: 6 (Satisfactory)
Heat-Level: 1 (Inspy)