Carl's Reviews > Acceptance

Acceptance by Susan Coll
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M_50x66
's review
Jul 27, 12

bookshelves: american, female-author, literature, satire, 21st-century-fiction
Read from July 25 to 26, 2012

One of the most marvelously counterintuitive (and efficient, and valuable) equations is "Comedy = Tragedy + Time." This satirical novel is probably funniest and most insightful to those who are furthest from its subject matter, but it is a mark of Coll's skill that the novel is capable of drawing those of us (teachers, parents, and I hope students) who are close to its subject into realizing how mockable we all are when we succumb to the insanity of the modern American college-admissions ratrace.

The targets of Coll's satire are many, and all absorb their shots in this novel: thoughtless and conforming and unthinkingly grinding students, status-greedy parents, self-righteous teachers and administrators, unprincipled college faculty and admissions folks, etc. Would that all of us can take a step back and realize how idiotic we sound when we lapse close to the farces Coll depicts. In fact, this world is so insane that she doesn't make it farcical enough to differentiate her satire from the reality she is mocking. Oh, well.

And yet she finds some humanity in most of these characters, and she certainly knows well about the worst-case scenarios that are real in stress-ridden schools and ridiculous college admissions processes and expectations. Some trite (but, worth admitting: too-often forgotten, especially in this particular whirlwind) "Life is passing too quickly"s (239) and "there was too much emphasis on...the idea that [happiness]...could be attained through superficial means like going to the one perfect school"s (244) speckle the landscape. The writing around them is uniformly impressive and the plotting and organization engage the reader even more impressively.

Everyone who is too close to the college-admissions Scylla or Charybdis deserves to row backward with a read of this novel. Laughing at ourselves is a valuable reward.
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Reading Progress

07/25/2012 page 95
33.0%

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