Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review: Admission & Giveaway

Summary: "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 Princeton University admissions officer and her dependable domestic life. Her reluctance to confront the truth is suddenly overwhelmed by the resurfacing of a life-altering decision, and Portia is faced with an extraordinary test. Just as thousands of the nation's brightest students await her decision regarding their academic admission, so too must Portia decide whether to make her own ultimate admission.

Admission is at once a fascinating look at the complex college admissions process and an emotional examination of what happens when the secrets of the past return and shake a woman's life to its core. -- Grand Central Publishing



There is so much terrific buzz about ADMISSION by Jean Hanff Korelitz. I have seen very positive reviews popping up everywhere and many of my fellow bloggers seem to have really enjoyed the book. You think that would have been reason enough for me to pick up this book, but it wasn't until I found out that there was going to be a BlogTalk Radio show with Ms. Korelitz that I actually decided to read ADMISSION. Boy am I glad I did -- I loved this book!

One of the very first things that I thought about when I finished this book was the title -- ADMISSION. It is absolutely the perfect name for this novel! It seems like a kind of obvious title since this book is about a college admission officer as well as the college admission process; however, I loved that the title had a second (and more meaningful) interpretation. As mentioned in the book summary above, the word "admission" not only means "getting into" something; it can also mean what we "let out." In the case of Portia, the word "admission" also referred to accepting her past and eventually sharing her secrets.

It did take me about a hundred or so pages before I really got into this book. I mean I definitely liked it, but I wasn't where I couldn't put it down -- that came later. I am pretty sure that I was having problems relating to the character of Portia. She was difficult for me to like, probably because she was so guarded. As the character and story evolved, I did become very caught up in Portia's life and was anxious to find out the secrets about her past. I thought the author did a great job of "teasing" the reader with hints about Portia's college days, and I found myself liking her (and even rooting for her) by the book's end.

There were so many things about this book that I liked that I'm not sure where to start. From an interesting/new-to-me standpoint, I was definitely in awe of the entire college admissions process -- it's such an intense and stressful time for so many students and parents. When I was in high school, I pretty much did a lot of the "right" things to get into a good college -- extracurricular activities, good grades, leadership positions, part-time job, etc. I ended up wanting to go to Penn State (it was the only school I even applied to) and all I had to do was fill out some forms, send a transcript and write a check. There was no essay or even recommendation letters. My application to graduate school required a little more effort, but I still didn't really experience any anxiety. I guess had I decided to apply to an Ivy League school, it would have been a very different experience for me. I know things have changed in 20 years (even at Penn State), but I don't think I had any idea how competitive it is and how many extremely gifted kids are not getting into their first choice of universities. I was actually blown away by how the final decisions about who to accept vs. who not to accept were made; and I was surprised by how much power an admissions officer has.

It was apparent that Ms. Korelitz had an insider's view of the college admissions process and that definitely made the book interesting; however, I was also very impressed with her ability to tell a story. I found the plot interesting and I thought the characters (especially Portia) were complex and very well developed. I also appreciated her writing style, with the beautiful descriptions; and I thought the dialogue seemed very realistic. If you'd like to learn a little more about Ms. Korelitz and the writing of this novel, check out this essay.

This book would make an excellent book club discussion book. I think many people will relate to the entire college admissions process as either a student or as a parent; and it would be so interesting to hear their insight into this story. In addition, there is so much to discuss about Portia's character and her issues. I can't find discussion questions right now; but when I do, I will link to them.

A big thanks to Miriam from Hachette Book Group for sending me an ARC of ADMISSION. Make sure you listen to the BlogTalk Radio show because it was a great one and definitely will enhance your reading experience.

If you are interested in winning a copy of ADMISSION, please leave a comment with your e-mail address telling me why you want to read this book. If you want to double or even triple your chances, you can tweet or blog about this contest with a link back here. The contest will be open until Wednesday, April 30th at 11:59 p.m. The winner will be announced the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada addresses only -- no p.o. boxes please. Good luck!

65 comments:

Debs Desk said...

I always wanted to go to college just did not take my moms advice. This book is on my wishlist. Please include me in your giveaway.
Thanks
Debbie
debdesk9(at)verizon.net

Molly said...

I am SO glad that I read your review. I have seen the cover of the book on several blogs --- but my assumption (never assume!!) was that the book centered on a "letting out", and I just didn't think I would be interested in a book of confession right now.

I would LOVE to read a book about the college admission process at the Ivy League level. Please enter me in this great give away!

Mstermind1 at gmail dot com

Bridget said...

Just posted this on Win A Book.

bermudaonion said...

Don't enter me. I loved your review, as usual. I remember when Vance was in middle school and a friend of his told me that he had joined a club because "it would look good on his college application." The stress starts early these days. (That young man is at Gonzaga now, by the way.)

Beth F said...

My copy just came yesterday, so I'm not sure when I'll read it. But I worked in the admissions office of my undergraduate school and served as the student representative on the committee that decided who got in.

I wonder how things have changed since the early 1970s and how a small liberal arts college is different from an Ivy League college.

Serena said...

I keep hearing so many great things about this book. I'd really like to revisit those college admission/college years. I think this is a great book for me

savvyverseandwit AT gmail DOT com

Melanie said...

I'd love to read this book. My step-son is in the process of deciding on his higher education right now. Scarey for him and us.

Beth said...

This looks great! It'd be nice to revisit the heady days of college! Please enter me!

BookCrossingKitten22[at]gmail[dot]com

allisonmariecat said...

The college application process seems so interesting. I've only seen it from the other side (as an applicant answering obscure questions and rushing to get packages postmarked by the deadline!

allisonDOTcampbellATgmailDOTcom

Lauren said...

I'd love to read this book! It's been getting great reviews and as someone who's trying to get into grad school, it'll be nice to read about the admissions process. :)

Holly said...

I worked in the Admissions office for three years as an undergrad...first calling prospective students, then giving tours, then organizing student hosts.

I think the books sounds interesting! Please enter me!

Thanks for hosting!

isaacson.holly[at]gmail[dot]com

nfmgirl said...

I never went to college, although I still may attend part-time someday. I love the Summary that you begin with: Admission has two parts, "It's what we let in, but it's also what we let out." That's something I could dwell on for awhile, all the different sides of "admission". (I love words and wordplay!) I am drawn to the woman's "secret past", wanting to find out what it is that could "shake a woman's life to its core." Please count me in. Thank you!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the review sounds good! tWarner419@aol.com

Natalie said...

while i've only been out of college a few years, so the admission process isn't too far from me, i, like you, don't feel like i went through quite the craziness that some people go through when it comes to getting into college! I've already added this to my list of books to read, and it'd be even better if I won a copy :)

(natalie.mclaury@gmail.com)

scottsgal said...

My son is at a junior college so we didn't have to do all the huge applications yet but when I went to school I remember writing a bunch of essays.

msboatgal at aol.com

Holly said...

I remember admission issues and waiting and wondering and hoping. Great review. This one really interests me.

christin said...

I have read several good reviews for this book and would love to read it:) Thanks!
christinbanda@yahoo.com

teabird said...

I love novels set in academe - please include me!


teabird 16 && at && yahoo dot com

nightdweller20 said...

This would be great to read, because then I could see the process of how I got accepted by my university. Thanks for the opportunity to win :)

jaam121388 at yahoo dot com

NotNessie said...

I would love to read this because it just sounds like a really good story. But also I think it would be interesting to view the college admissions process from the inside.

gypsyrover21(at)yahoo(dot)ca

Amber said...

I just finished the difficult college admissions process myself (and was not accepted into Princeton :P) so I am extremely intrigued and would love to read this book!
Thanks so much for the giveaway :)
hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

Janel said...

I didn't go to a college that had rigorous admission policies. I would love to learn more about the process. Please enter me!

jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

bridget3420 said...

I want to read this because it sounds like a great book.

bjhopper(at)me(dot)com

Anna said...

I've been seeing this book pop up on the blogs. I'd like to read it because some days I really miss my college days, and I'm intrigued about the insider's view of the admissions process.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentricdiaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

Julie said...

I saw a review of this in EW and thought "Crap another book I have to read".

Please enter me in the contest!!

julie@girlsjustreading.com

a real librarian said...

I have been reading about this book in several blogs, and I just have to read it!! Thanks for the chance to win!!

areallibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

Kristi said...

I would like to read this because as of this fall I will have a senior and a freshman in highschool (it hurts to even type that!) Please enter me in the contest.

kherbrand at comcast dot net

Florinda said...

This book's already on my wish list, and I'd love to win a copy! I've been through the process for myself and my son, and am looking at it again in a few years with my stepdaughter, so I'm quite intrigued!

3.rsblog AT Gmail DOT com

Thanks, Julie!

mindy said...

i would love to read this because it gives great insight into things thanks for the giveaway minsthins(at)optonline(dot)net

Deborah said...

I'd like to read "Admission" because from all I've read about it, it's a good book to discuss with friends and reading groups. asthenight at gmail dot com

Marie said...

This sounds really interesting, I would love to read it!

marielay@gmail.com

liane66 said...

My son is getting ready to graduate undergrad and thinking about grad school. This book could help him.
Thanks for the giveaway!
Kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

kathy55439 said...

would love this for my step daughter I have read great reviews about it

Nyuel said...

As someone who once had to suffer from the admission process in high school, I'm interested in reading about the other side of the decision making. Please enter me in this great giveaway.

Nyuel113(at)yahoo(dot)com

divaqueenie said...

I love reading about new and interesting things I know nothing about....this certainly fills the bill. I'd love to win this book! Thanks for sharing.

BUSY BEE said...

I am intrigued to read this book! I have heard many good reviews regarding it and am hoping to win a copy for my own!

Thanks for the great giveaway!

bsyb100atgmail dot com

LittleEagle said...

The premise of the book sounds interesting and I would like the opportunity to read it. sharonaquilino(at)hotmail(dot)com

olympianlady said...

Please enter me. I really like the idea of a book about the college admissions process from the other side of the situation. Thanks!

tiffanyak1986(at)hotmail(dot)com

Carrie K. said...

I've wanted to read this since I saw the review in Entertainment Weekly - and then it started showing up all over the blogosphere! Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

nnjmom at yahoo dot com

Carrie K. said...

I blogged about your giveaway here:

http://booksandmovies.colvilleblogger.com/2009/04/18/bookish-links-for-saturday-april-18-2009/

sharon54220 said...

I would love to win & read this book.

sharon54220@gmail.com

Evy said...

My college experience was more so with my International Student Advisor more so than the Admissions office but I would like to read this book so please include me in the giveaway.

Regards,

Vindella

Teddy Rose said...

I would love to win this book because I would like to see the admission process and the story sounds wonderful. I miss university.

I blogged about your giveaway here:

http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2009/04/giveaways-galore_18.html

teddyr66 at yahoo dot com

♔ jessica.marie said...

I am in college now and I have a theory that they don't even read the applications ;)

lovejessicamarie [@] gmail [.] com

Belinda M said...

It sounds like an very interesting book. My son in the future will have to go to college and it would be informative to see what the whole process entails. As for me, I made the mistake of not going to college and headed right out to work. I do feel as though I missed out on a part of life that every young adult should experience

Sue W. said...

Well college is something I never attended so didn't have to go through the admission process. But reading the review made me more aware of what has to be done. I belong to a wonderful women's organization that helps women further their education and one of our scolarships is for young women coming out of high school into college. We interviewed three prospective women and the one thing they all mentioned was about all the paperwork involved for admission to college. Not sure that I could have done it. Anyway would love to win this book.

Sue W. said...

I have blogged to win this book at:
http://gourdcrafter.blogspot.com/

Sue W. said...

I twittered at:

http://twitter.com/kona15hilo

nomadreader said...

I'm years past the admissions process and years from watching children go through it, but I'm still fascinated by the entire process. Where one goes to college affects his or her life so dramatically. I can't wait to read this one!

Valerie said...

I'm currently a college student
So this would be a great book to read and share
Nice book cover design too
Kawaiineko2008 at aol dot com

nhertel85 said...

I'd like to enter.

nhertel85ATyahooDOTcom

Kerri said...

The cover looks great, and I've got two degrees so I know all about college admissions.

ravndahl@hotmail.com

northernmama-northerngirl said...

Fascinating topic! I remember vying for the right university ! This book sounds intriguing and I am curious about the secrets the main character must drudge up and face...you have be wondering:)
~Angela
northern_mama@yahoo.ca

Pam said...

That whole admissions process is interesting. How do they choose which students to accept? I'd love to know. It's stressful from this end, I remember clearly. It'd be interesting to see it from the other end.

melacan at hotmail dot com

canadiangiveaways said...

After getting wait listed at my number 1 choice of schools (I eventually got in) I'm curious to see what goes into the application and admission process

canadiangiveaways said...

I blogged about this here:
CANADIAN GIVEAWAYS

quelleheure4 said...

I'd love to read this. Having gone through this twice already, I am especially interested in what's going on behind the scenes.
quelleheure4[at]gmail{dot}com

Stephanie said...

I would LOVE to win a copy of this one!!

Please enter me in your contest!!

Thanks!

stoland at ameritech dot net

Bcteagirl said...

As a graduate student, I would love to hear about admissions 'from the other side' as it were. Thank you!

teagirl1 at telus dott net

Selinda said...

I work in a college and would like to see this side of things!

Thanks,

selinda_mccumbers at yahoo.com

Alicia said...

I remember being stressed waiting for my acceptance letters, so I'd love to read about it from the other side. Thanks!

bluebyrd24 at gmail dot com

Jo-Jo said...

I work at a college so I would love to win a copy of this one...please enter me!
joannelong74@gmail.com

nfmgirl said...

I blogged it:

http://cerebralgirl.blogspot.com/2009/04/two-giveaways-closing-on-bookingmama.html

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Nicole said...

Your review makes the book sound really good. I would like to read it. Thanks!

Wanda said...

I'd love to read this book because it looks like a book that makes you think as you read. I'd love the opportunity to win it.