Reviewed by Lauren K.

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz is a bit intimidating at first glance. Coming in at about 450 pages, the book is not to be taken lightly, nor is the story within. Admission is the tale of Portia Nathan, an admissions officer at Princeton. The book is a complex journey, one that provides a glimpse into Ivy League politics and follows Portia through a very decisive and complex time in her life. There are other characters peppered throughout the novel, yet they are all fleeting figures that stand on the outside of Portia and what is going on in her mind.

The start was a slow one, but once Portia is given a bit more substance, the book becomes a bit easier to follow as the pages unfold. The best way I can say it is that Portia herself unfolds at the same time. She pushes through her admission applicants while her 16 year relationship falls apart and she struggles with her unconventional mother. All the while, she is ignoring her own life and situations, and pushing away a new love interest she finds in John Halsey. John also happens to have a connection to her past, dating back to his college crush on her while she was dating a fraternity brother of his. They meet again through a chance encounter at an alternative school Portia is recruiting at in Vermont. Here she also meets a strange and brilliant boy named Jeremiah that she becomes mildly obsessed with.

As her life unravels upon returning from this trip, there is more focus on the piles of folders Portia must dig through, her dirty laundry, the massive ignoring of personal upkeep, and strange flashbacks. The flashbacks get to be a bit much as the story goes on. They were often placed awkwardly, right when the story was flowing so well, I felt I was thrown back into the confusion I felt in the beginning of the novel.

[amazonify]0446540714[/amazonify]Ultimately, Portia’s mind is her own unraveling after her world officially collapses. The book’s last half was a tough sell considering that I felt in the middle that I had finally understood Portia and related to her, then completely lost that connection. I was not disappointed with Admission as a whole, merely the open ended outcome as I felt that neither Portia nor I received any actual closure.

Reading group guides for book clubs are available in PDF format. Learn more about Jean Hanff Korelitz at her website.

Lauren Kirk is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to working on her own personal writing, editing Messy Magazine, and writing for multiple sites, Lauren is also currently pursuing her MFA in English. More of her work can be found at : messymagazine.org and goldiesays.wordpress.com.


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