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Admission

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  4,758 ratings  ·  946 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 sudd
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Paperback, 464 pages
Published April 8th 2010 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Colin
Jun 17, 2009 Colin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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Karen
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Greg
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
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Hannah Notess
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
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Andrea
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
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
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Jeannine
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
Jenny
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
Sgkagan
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
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Karen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rex
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
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Beth
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
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David
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
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Erin
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
Eden
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.
Kandice
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
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Helen
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.
Katee
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
Miriam
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.
Ines
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.
Kim
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
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Melissa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol Moore
Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz *** 1/2
Portia Nathan has a unique job. She reads applications from high school students who want to attend Princeton. It’s a job for a certain kind of person, and Portia is well-suited to it. For months she shuts out the world and does nothing but read the applications diligently and attend meetings where the applications are discussed. She’s dedicated to doing her job in keeping with the standards of the institution.
Her personal life is dull, but that changes
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DebiReads
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
Adrienne
Jean Hanff Korelitz is quickly becoming my favorite author, and this is the second of her books that I have devoured at a break-neck pace. It hasn't been long since I applied to a selective (albeit second tier) institution and anxiously awaited word from the committee. Even less time has passed since my experience of coup de foudre and the resulting fallout. Needless to say, there is much for me to relate to in this novel.This book gave me much to think about: the duel definitions of "admission, ...more
Myckyee
A few years ago I read Sabbathday River by Jane Hanff Korelitz and while the ending didn’t quite sit well with me I nevertheless really liked the book and have recommended it to friends. So I was looking forward to reading Admission by the same author.

The topic is not one I’ve encountered before: it’s the story of an admissions officer for Princeton University. Portia Nathan visits high school seniors around the United States and describes the benefits of a Princeton education. Once the applica
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Eliza
1/20/13: This novel is exactly what I expected, which is both reassuring (easy, familiar, fun) and frustrating. Korelitz is an able writer, and this story of the life crisis of Portia Nathan, Admissions officer at Princeton, moves surely and solidly to its appointed denouement. I looked forward to finding out what would happen next, and wished only that I'd had the luxury of a long plane ride to make my time spent with this 450-page novel slightly more excusable.

Because the book is great in som
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Jenn Tat
Portia is a Princeton admissions officer who is consumed and defined by her work. She has devoted years to selecting the nation’s best and brightest until the day when she is forced to confront a remnant of her past in a life-changing decision.

There are two sides to the story in Admission, cleverly reflecting the two opposing definitions of the word itself. The selection process for applicants was enlightening (especially at this point in my life) and founded on years of Korelitz’ experience as
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Flo
Just finished reading Admission, all 634 pages, about Portia, a 38 year old admission officer, at Princeton in a 16 year relationship with Mark, a professor at the same University.

This is an extremely well written, intelligent, at times fascinating and elegant novel. I could not put it down. I can easily recommend it to anyone wishing to pass a couple of pleasant days reading about an entrancing heroine whose life goes through a traumatic upheaval, both personally and work based. Her insights a
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Movie? 7 43 Apr 18, 2014 10:04AM  
Admission 1 39 Apr 22, 2009 07:16AM  
  • Acceptance
  • Getting In
  • The Company You Keep
  • The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College
  • College Girl
  • Sing Them Home
  • Schooled
  • The Family Man
  • How to Buy a Love of Reading
  • Wherever Grace Is Needed
  • Commencement
  • Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne
  • Helen of Pasadena
  • One D.O.A., One on the Way
  • The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges -- and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates
  • Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites
  • Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy
  • Songs for the Missing
Sabbathday River

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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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