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3.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,543 Ratings  ·  1,011 Reviews
"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 PrincetonUniversity admissions officer and her dependable domestic life. Her reluctance to confront the truth is sud
Hardcover, 452 pages
Published April 13th 2009 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 17, 2009 Colin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Pretty much everyone.
Loved/Terrified by this passage:

"She knew that they were soft-centered, emotional beings wrapped in a terrified carapace, that even though they might appear rational and collected on paper, so focused that you wanted to marvel at their promise and maturity, they were lurching, turbulent muddles of conflict in their three-dimensional lives [...:] She knew that the creative ones were desperately afraid they were talentless, and the intellectuals deeply suspected they weren't brilliant, and that ev
Nov 28, 2010 Karen rated it it was ok
I had heard good things about Admission before setting out to read it. Having completed it now, I just can't understand why it has received any good press whatsoever! The author spent a few years reading applications at Princeton University, and her novel circles around the admissions process at Princeton and in the Ivy League generally. It has not been so many years since I was an Ivy applicant, so I can certainly appreciate the "inside" look into the admissions process and the tremendous chore ...more
Tiny Pants
Jun 28, 2010 Tiny Pants rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2013 Greg rated it liked it
For people who like: Ivy League stuff, snobby stuff, to debate about the haves and have nots, vaguely smutty chick lit with some high mindedness, good story-telling

Okay now I know. I have to put down something about the book immediately after I read it or else malaise sets in. I've felt really lazy these days, also super busy, and, recently, super sick. So today I took a sick day and read Admission, which is tangentially related to work so it didn't feel like I took the day off. I also remembere
Hannah Notess
Jul 18, 2013 Hannah Notess rated it it was amazing
I probably enjoyed this book disproportionately. Yes, I picked it up because I knew it had been made into a movie with Tina Fey and because the author is married to Paul Muldoon who I met once and was nice.

But I love a good academic novel, and it was especially refreshing to read one that didn't revolve around the tired professor-student romance trope. The plot moved in ways I didn't expect, and I liked how the story was interwoven with the pleading Greek chorus of applicants, their distinct an
Jul 05, 2010 Andrea rated it really liked it
This book was a nice find. Portia is partnered, childless, 40ish, long-time admissions officer at Princeton. She's satisfied with her life, that is, when she is not holding it up against her mother's values and standards. Many will relate to the tension between Portia and her mother Susannah (an old-school burn-the-bra feminist) and how mom's influence and expectations drive Portia's life choices. Ultimately, this is a book about the pursuit of an authentic life and how we learn to be true and f ...more
Jul 27, 2010 Jenny rated it did not like it
I really, really hated this book. I picked it up because I too worked in admissions. However, though I took my job seriously, I was never as pretentious, obsessed,or as tedious as the main character in this book, who works for Princeton Admissions. The main character is simultaneously stupid (she doesn't understand a fairly simple philosophical essay one of the applicants "writes"), self-absorbed (really, does everybody at parties truly DESPERATELY want to know the teeny minute details of your j ...more
Shannon Wells
This book had an interesting premise, and I was looking for it as soon as I heard about it. But, it took way too long to get into the main plot, and at times it slogged through.... I found myself really having to push myself to finish; liked it well enough to want to see how it ended, but not enough to really be interested. Does that make sense?

As someone really interested in higher education -- and as someone with advanced degrees who thought they would be working in the university system -- I
Lisa Vegan
Jun 07, 2009 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
This was a thoroughly enjoyable book to read. The author has a very engaging writing style and tells a story that I found riveting. (I now want to check her other books. The other plots don’t look as interesting to me, but she’s such a good writer I might try another of her books.)

The characters are likeable and understandable and authentic seeming people. One third the way through the book I could see a million miles away what was coming, but that did not at all diminish the pleasure I got whil
May 17, 2009 Jeannine rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Interesting read, with lots of detail, about life as an ivy league college (Princeton) addmissions "reader". In the book, the main character mentions how former readers write memoirs about their experiences. This is a fiction take on the subject and the entire time, I kept thinking "this would have been better as a memoir or non-fiction". The author obviously wants to make certain points about the college admissions process, which means her character often breaks out into speeches that go on for ...more
This was better than average. Korelitz does a good job with language and her plot was interesting enough. I was surprised with Portia's reveal. I knew that she had been pregnant (that's pretty easy to figure out early enough) and that things had ended badly with Tom, but I was not prepared for the adoption. However, the suspicion that Jeremiah is her long lost little boy was just too over the top convenient. And, as much as Korelitz tries to present the East Coast Ivy world as less than snobbish ...more
Avid Reader
Apr 27, 2009 Avid Reader rated it really liked it
Definitely this season's must read for the parents of college bound students. Sense of humor or ironic detachment suggested.

Should Admission have been titled Admissions? I think so. But the conceit behind the title refers to Princeton University’s Admission Office. The nuances of “Admission Office” vs. “Admissions” and “College of Art and Science” versus “Arts and Sciences” or even “Arts and Science” may be distinctions too fine for most of us but careful readers may find these disagreements abs
Apr 26, 2010 Karen rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 01, 2013 Rex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the book had a pat "twist" - it did not have a pat ending, it did not tie everything up tidily, which I appreciated. It left some breathing room.

Admission having a nice double meaning on "letting something in" while also "letting some out" was fine thematically, but the secret in Portia's past was a touch predictable and oversold. Likewise, her monologues on the "fairness" of the oblique criteria that make a good Princeton candidate (a good student and or a good person, in fact) seemed
Feb 03, 2013 Ksenija rated it really liked it
Right place/right time. I picked this novel about an admissions officer at Princeton off the "Library Staff Favorites" shelf, and read it in a day because I've been trying to stay in the ZONE with writing college recommendations for high school juniors. So I considered it research, not procrastination. Ha.

I loved the intimate glimpse into the office of admissions and the struggle that application readers go through as they reject incredible kids. Who knew that the climax of a novel could revolv
Jun 07, 2009 M rated it liked it
The overwhelming sense I had when reading this book, a discourse on the trials of a woman who serves as gatekeeper at Princeton through her work in the admissions office, is that it had the quality of a televeision series - a lot of panoramic views without any real depth.
This work traces the emotional turmoil that Portia, reader of applications faces, inside and outside of her office as she deals with her various emotional distractions. While it is a smartly written novel in that the language is
Jun 15, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this novel about a Yale admissions officer newly promoted to the New England region where she grew up. Portia Nathan, age 38 and coasting along in her job and relationship, bumps into her past in several ways as she navigates the highways and byways of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Each chapter is cleverly prefaced with an excerpt from a potential student's college essay. As Portia visits a variety of prep schools, she has a chance not just to talk about Yale, but to expound on high
Jul 13, 2009 David rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
This is a perfectly decently written, slightly overwrought story, which is highly readable. It centers on a woman who works as an admissions officer at Princeton, who has to come to terms with a DARK SHAMEFUL SECRET IN HER PAST that she has been avoiding for years.

Though I enjoyed the book, there were a few irritating points. First, it was way too long; had Ms Korelitz made the effort to tell her story in 300 pages, rather than 450, it would have been a better book. Second, though the author pa
May 20, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
Shelves: literary
I really wanted to give this 4 or 5 stars, because i was so looking forward to it. here was my problem (and i think it might be mine alone, judging from the other critics who reviewed the book)--it's long. And dense. And I thought she could've cut out at least 100 pages and been just fine. She has a great literary voice, but my goodness. longer is not better. It's not that it dragged (and it could be I'm used to more superficial reading, which is a fair argument), but some editing would be helpf ...more
Aug 01, 2009 Eden rated it it was ok
Please do not waste your time reading this book. As someone who works in the field of college admissions (and has since I was a campus tour guide in 1995), I thought there would be some sort of humor I could relate to in this book. Instead, it took well over 100 pages to get to any real character development, puffing and plodding along like the very long climb up the first leg of a roller coaster. There was little humor in this book, and too much melodrama/too many unnecessary characters.
Feb 22, 2014 Kandice rated it it was ok
2 and a 1/2 stars, but since that's not an option, I don't feel like bumping it to 3.

My opinion probably suffered because I went into this book expecting something completely different. I read it because my daughter loves the movie, which stars Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Because of them I expected it to be lighter than it was, and if not actually funny, at least amusing. It was neither. It was very, very heavy and dense. The entire book is an internal journey for Portia, the main character. There w
May 23, 2009 Helen rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Loved the idea. Thought it would be fun to read about a Princeton admissions officer. (As a former admissions director, I have a soft spot in my heart for admissions.) I really liked Portia's personal story and the mysteries that surrounded her, but I couldn't stand the PAGES of detail regarding the admissions process. At first it was interesting, then it was annoying, and finally I couldn't read any more.
Oct 08, 2014 Katee rated it it was ok
I initially started this book because I had seen the movie and am a fan of Tina Fey. This book was disappointing (to say in the least). This book talks about how difficult a job it is to secure admission into college, yet alone an Ivy league school. The main character, Portia, has a history of searching for herself, similar to that of many college students, while helping students find themselves at school in her job as a college admissions director. At thirty-eight years old, Portia has much of ...more
Dec 16, 2008 Miriam rated it really liked it
Totally recommend this for anyone who is obsessed with college admissions (as I am) or is interested in it for personal reasons. Plus, it's a great and suspenseful literary story.
Aug 09, 2009 Ines rated it did not like it
predictable. boring. almost gave in w/ just over 100 pages to go, but forced myself to finish, and I was utterly disappointed. just painful to read. painful.
Michele Chapman
Jun 28, 2015 Michele Chapman rated it it was ok
I have a policy of not seeing a movie until I've read the book, and I wanted to see this movie because of the casting. I delved into the book, and then it turned into a matter of finishing it on principal. I know a lot of people out there love, love, love books with complex layers and characters who are so complex that they don't even know themselves, but I found the main character sad and sadly self-unaware, which made this book a real stinker for me. Maybe if the actual story had been about co ...more
Jun 04, 2011 Kim rated it liked it
I really wanted to read this book based on reviews I read. Sadly, I was disappointed. It was really miserable. The main character was totally unhappy!
I do like how the reader began the book with NO idea where this story was leading. Wow. Kudos to Korelitz for surprising the reader (or at least me). Nice work on her part with the title. The reader thinks the story is purely focused on college admissions... not so. Although, the novel really did bog down in the Princeton admissions department. U
May 01, 2010 Melissa rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ross Lenhart
Dec 11, 2011 Ross Lenhart rated it really liked it
Having been a Director of Admission in my early career, and then spending a quarter century trying to figure out why a seventeen year old chooses one college over another, I guess you could call me "an admission junky". For this reason, I loved reading Admission, A Novel, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. The story is about Portia, a Dartmouth grad, who got her start in the Dartmouth admission office and then through a relationship with an English Professor ended up at Emory - but the book is mainly about ...more
Jul 05, 2011 Mrs.George rated it liked it
This 477-pager could certainly have been shortened without loss, though the prose reflects the psychological stasis of the main character. Portions of the novel are masterfully tense, demanding reader attention. I found most characters --especially the Quest group-- likable and fascinating. Snippets of supposed admissions essays prefacing each chapter signal the author's skill, for they convincingly embody tone and voice commonly seen in student writing. The idiomatic errors, such as with the us ...more
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Movie? 7 46 Apr 18, 2014 10:04AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz 2 4 Mar 07, 2013 09:01PM  
Admission 1 39 Apr 22, 2009 07:16AM  
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“There is a sound to waiting. It sounds like held breath pounding its fists against the walls of the lung, damp and muffled beats.” 8 likes
“All ghost stories come to this, she understood. All ghost stories end in one of two ways: You are dead or I am dead. If people only understood this, Portia thought, they would never be frightened, they would only need to ask themselves, Who among us has died?

And then she occurred to her that she was the ghost in her story. She had spent years haunting her own life, without ever noticing.”
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