Saturday, December 19, 2009
Admission - Jean Hanff Korelitz
I have a fascination with college admissions. I'm not sure what it is about it - part of it is the secrecy and difficult of the process. Part of it is reading about how amazing and overly stressed high school kids are these days. But, whatever the case, I've read and enjoyed a number of nonfiction books about admissions (I highly recommend The Gatekeepers by Jacques Steinberg). So while browsing at the library the other day, I came across this fiction book. The cover art drew me in, and then when I discovered that it was about an admission officer at Princeton, I was hooked. Portia Nathan has been an admission officer for 16 years. She's also been in a relationship for that long with a Princeton professor. Her life is about visiting prep schools and finding just the right kids for her prestigious university. As Portia enters the grueling "reading period" - the time when she becomes a hermit and attempts to stay up for hours reading thousands of application folders, she finds her personal life crumbling around her. Admission is a good mix of admission lore and the story of a woman approaching middle age and questioning her past choices and what she wants from her future (kind of like all high school seniors writing countless personal essays). For those who aren't interested in the college application process, Admission is a little heavy on the procedure and tedium of the Ivy League, and probably wouldn't be so interesting. But for those whole share my intrigue, this one is filled with juicy admission tidibts set against the backdrop of a decent enough story.