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Review: Admission

April 14, 2009


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.  I found that Portia was much more complex than she seemed on the surface and I just had to know what her secret was.  Portia’s mother, Susannah,  was a free-spirit and I enjoyed reading about her.  Susannah’s the type of woman I admire and love to talk to, but frankly, I’m glad my mother’s not like her.  Overall, I thought this character driven book was great.

Jean Hanff Korelitz  graduated from Dartmouth College and spent two years working as a part-reader for Princeton’s Office of Admission.  She is the author of three other novels as well as a children’s novel.  She lives in Princeton with her husband and two children and will be featured on Blog Talk Radio tomorrow, April 15, at 2:00 PM Eastern Time.

43 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2009 7:14 am

    This book sounds a little different. With the name like this I thought it would be a thriller. Glad you liked the book.

  2. April 14, 2009 7:16 am

    This really sounds like a good book. The name Portia feels aloof to me. Interesting how names can fit even fictional characters. I’ll be taking my lunch break tomorrow at 2pm to listen to the conversation.

  3. April 14, 2009 8:02 am

    My sister used to work in college admissions. I’ll definitely let her know about this one. Thanks!

  4. April 14, 2009 8:03 am

    Great review. I’m going to write mine this morning! Can’t wait for the radio show.

  5. April 14, 2009 8:27 am

    Sounds like there is a lot of drama going on that has nothing to do with actual college admissions. Not sure if I’d like that or not…

  6. April 14, 2009 8:52 am

    I just love that cover! Sounds like an interesting book. I wish I could listen tomorrow.

  7. April 14, 2009 8:53 am

    This sounds interesting – I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks for your review!

  8. April 14, 2009 8:56 am

    Great review! I didn’t want to put mine down, either… =)

  9. April 14, 2009 9:03 am

    This book sounds great — wonderful review.

  10. April 14, 2009 9:07 am

    I ought to get hold of it. For a teacher, this seems like perfect book.

    Portia reminds me Merchant of Venice!

  11. April 14, 2009 9:30 am

    I really should read this one because I worked in the admissions office of my undergraduate school and was on the committee that helped determine who was accepted!

  12. April 14, 2009 9:31 am

    Sounds pretty compelling! And I love the double entendre of “Admission” as a title… awesome! 🙂 Great review, Kathy.

  13. April 14, 2009 11:19 am

    It’s interesting how so many bloggers can have different views of the same book. That’s why I love book blogs. I take from each what I need at that moment and I am hardly disappointed.

    Are you going to tune in to the blog show?

  14. April 14, 2009 11:36 am

    Nice review Kathy. I’m looking foward to reading this one. I had really liked the simplicity of the cover too.

  15. April 14, 2009 11:43 am

    I love character driven novels. This one sounds good. I will be sure to listen tomorrow.

  16. April 14, 2009 12:14 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the heads up on the blogtalk radio show with the author.

  17. April 14, 2009 12:23 pm

    Sounds like an interesting book. Great review!

  18. Carol permalink
    April 14, 2009 12:26 pm

    Portia sounds like an interesting character. Thanks for the review.

  19. April 14, 2009 2:02 pm

    This one made it on to my wish list last week – thanks for another good review!

  20. April 14, 2009 4:52 pm

    Great review. I have to admit, I was more interested in the admissions process information than in Portia’s personal story! It was still a good read though.

  21. April 14, 2009 4:57 pm

    I keep seeing this around. It seems people are liking it and not liking it for a varied bunch of reasons. That always makes me want to see if they are right! 🙂 Thanks for the review.

  22. April 14, 2009 7:22 pm

    I’ve seen this book around a lot lately too. It sounds very interesting. I’ve never thought of what went on during the admissions process – at least not when it didn’t apply to my own application! lol. I think I just might have to check this out.

    P.S. Love your blog!

  23. April 14, 2009 7:50 pm

    I have this one as a new addition to my pile. I can’t wait to read it. 🙂 Great Review.. I skimmed a little…but it looks like something that I will enjoy. Thanks

  24. April 14, 2009 8:16 pm

    Very cool review, sounds like an interesting book. I’ve never listened to a BlogTalk show, looks really neat 🙂

  25. April 14, 2009 8:37 pm

    hmmm…i’ve always wondered what goes on behind the scenes in the admissions offices of colleges and universities. this book sounds good–i’m jotting it down on my new notebook/mousepad! 🙂

  26. April 14, 2009 8:49 pm

    When you first described Portia, I immediately thought of the admissions counselor who worked with me when I was considering attending her college. This does sound like an interesting book. Thanks for the review, Kathy.

  27. April 14, 2009 8:49 pm

    I’m intrigued! I’ll add it to my list. Nice review.

    I’ve awarded you the … well, come visit my blog again and see for yourself 🙂

  28. Elizabeth permalink
    April 14, 2009 9:20 pm

    I thought this sounded good when I first heard about it – now I definitely want to read it.

  29. April 14, 2009 11:18 pm

    I just read a review of this in Entertainment Weekly and it kind of interested me … I love the idea of getting a “sneak peek” into the college admissions office. I suspect that certain people will buy this book to help them with the whole admissions process!

  30. April 15, 2009 12:32 am

    I have added this to my wish list – even though I’m really hoping I win one of the copies S. Krishna is giving away! 🙂

  31. April 15, 2009 12:49 am

    I’m glad to hear that you liked this one. I thought that it looked good too, and added it to my wish list.

  32. April 15, 2009 3:25 pm

    With 2 daughters in high school next year I might have to pick this up if only for the details about the admissions process! Good review!

  33. April 15, 2009 10:18 pm

    Seems like I read a book by that same title not long ago, but this wasn’t it. However, this one sounds fairly good. I’m not one for aloof characters though.

  34. April 15, 2009 10:43 pm

    Great review, I want to pick this book up now!

  35. April 16, 2009 1:02 am

    Not 100% sure if I would like this or not but it does sound like an interesting plot nontheless. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  36. April 16, 2009 7:28 am

    Sometimes I find that I really end up loving the slow starters–sounds like this was one of those for you. Glad you enjoyed!

  37. April 16, 2009 9:10 am

    I love when characters are aloof and more complex than they are at first glance. I like to peel back their layers…thanks for this excellent review.

  38. April 16, 2009 10:58 am

    Ooh, I typically love books with a college setting. This sounds good. Thanks!

  39. April 16, 2009 9:19 pm

    Oh gosh, I’ve got to get my hands on this book! J went to Princeton undergrad, and even though it’s fiction I’m sure I’d love the references to the town and the college.

    Our eldest will be entering 8th grade in the fall. Only a few more years until this starts up for us (the college apps, not the affairs!)

  40. stacybuckeye permalink
    April 19, 2009 10:18 am

    I added this to my list.

  41. April 20, 2009 3:57 pm

    So, the plot doesn’t sound like something I’d like, but the admissions stuff sounds really interesting 🙂

  42. April 23, 2009 2:51 pm

    Not sure if this is my cup of tea, but it does sound interesting.

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