Admission

Admission

3.6 118
by Jean Hanff Korelitz
     
 

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"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. HerSee more details below

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Overview

"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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Portia Nathan, the overly dedicated 38-year-old Princeton admissions officer, narrator of Korelitz's overthought fourth novel, finds purpose in her gatekeeper role. But her career and conscience are challenged after she visits a down-at-the-heels New England town on a scouting trip and meets Jeremiah, a talented but rough-around-the-edges 17-year-old who maybe doesn't measure up as Princeton material. The real rub is how making his acquaintance forces Portia to confront a painful secret from her past that ties into some domestic discord with her professor husband, David, and may lead her into a career-endangering fracas with the admissions board. The narrative is slow out of the gate, though it gets some pep once the Jeremiah-Portia angle comes into focus. And even if Portia tends to ruminate in an precious way, Korelitz makes good use of the sociological issues tied up in elite university admissions. (Apr.)

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Library Journal

Nothing comes before Portia Nathan's job as an admissions officer at Princeton University. When Mark, her domestic partner of 16 years, moves in with his pregnant lover, Portia buries herself in the ever-growing stacks of admission applications; she's in deep denial, ignoring her answering machine, her personal mail, and even her hygiene. Months before Mark left her, Portia had a sudden dalliance with John, a teacher at the experimental Quest school she visited on a recruiting trip. When John comes to tour Princeton with some of his students, their arrival brings Portia back to reality as one student, a quirky, brilliant autodidact who badly wants to go to Princeton, tugs at her heartstrings. Korelitz's fourth novel (after The White Rose) vividly brings to life the incredible stress borne by admissions workers. Readers will experience the challenge of the admissions process at an Ivy League school, where every applicant tends toward the extraordinary. This engaging and surprisingly suspenseful novel is highly recommended for all public libraries.
—Keddy Ann Outlaw

Kirkus Reviews
Gripping portrait of a woman in crisis from the extremely gifted Korelitz (The White Rose, 2005, etc.). Portia Nathan should be happy. She's proud of her work as an admissions officer at formerly country-clubbish Princeton, now a bastion of multiethnic excellence thanks to the dedication of Portia and her colleagues to finding the very brightest of all races and classes. OK, her relationship with her aging New Lefty mother Susannah is distant, and she's hardly more intimate with longtime live-in boyfriend Mark, chair of Princeton's English department. Maybe that's why, during a recruiting trip in New England, Portia falls into bed with John, who teaches at the ultra-alternative Quest School. Portia is startled but impressed by Quest's think-outside-the-box students, especially Jeremiah, a brilliant autodidact she thinks belongs at Princeton. But when John tells Portia (who didn't recognize him) that he knew her as an undergraduate at Dartmouth, it's the first in a series of unsettling events that unravel her carefully controlled life. Susannah has taken in a pregnant teenager; Mark confesses that he's knocked up a fellow professor and moves out. Poring over hundreds of application folders, faced with her annual task of "winnowing the stupendously remarkable from a vast field of the only normally remarkable," Portia slowly comes unglued. By now, we know that she got pregnant in college, and whatever choice she made about it has shadowed her ever since. It seems for a while that the narrative might lead us toward a tearful mother-and-child reunion, but Korelitz demands far more from her lovable heroine. Portia comes to understand that her wounds are partly self-inflicted, and shedemonstrates her commitment to change with a brave, rule-breaking act she knows will be punished. It is, but we believe Portia will pick up the pieces because we've seen that she's ready to take some of the care she's always lavished on anxious college applicants and devote it to herself. Strongly plotted, crowded with full-bodied characters and as thoughtful about "this national hysteria over college admissions" as it is about the protagonist's complex personality-a fine, moving example of traditional realistic fiction.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446557634
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
04/13/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
197,482
File size:
1 MB

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