Wanda's Reviews > Admission

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz
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Sep 20, 11



Portia Nathan, the protagonist of this book, is a Princeton University recruitment and admissions officer. She is a flawed, but likeable human being who is well developed and multidementional. Portia goes on a recruiting trip and, at Deerfield Academy, meets an old classmate from Dartmouth, with whom she has a one night stand. That was a bit of a stretch for me. It's not as if he was a long lost love for whom she had been pining for years. In fact, she could not remember him.
She goes from Deerfield to a small "alternative" cum "hippie" private school where she meets a strange but brilliant kid. I won't say much more about this weird kid and how their meeting plays out in the rest of the novel because it would be a spoiler.
Portia returns to Princeton and finds that her partner of 16 years has gotten a colleague pregnant and no matter that he and Portia have been together for all that time, he leaves her. A real nice guy, eh? The cad even invites his paramour over to his house for dinner before he drops the news of the pregnancy on poor Portia.
Portia has a secret, which is pretty easy to figure out about 1/4 of the way into the book, but I won't reveal it here. The secret plays itself out in a very interesting way.
Admission is a very well written and very tightly plotted book that is full of surprises. In addition to Portia's story, it is chock full of wonderful information about the silly process of admission to the Ivy League, the worth of an Ivy League education and the very real influence that the connections of a well placed family and a legacy still have in the rarefied worlds of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
My only criticism of this book is that it could have used some editing. There is some repetition of the same material about the process of admission and the influence of the Groton, St. Paul and Exeters, but it was good to learn that going to an elite prep school was not an automatic ticket to the HYPs.
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