I once read an article that talked about how hard it is for mothers to find books they are comfortable reading; after all a lot of books deal with kidnap, school shootings, child abuse, children with diseases (at least Jodi Picoult has covered all these topics). Some mothers find it so hard because when reading about a child they, naturally, picture their own child and nobody really wants to picture their child involved in any of the harrowing situations listed above.

Being an eighteen year old I have no children (just realizing that being eighteen doesn’t automatically mean I have no children but to me it does so I’m going to leave the first part of this sentence the way it is) and although I cry often while reading, I’ve rarely found a book that felt too uncomfortable to read. Instead, I usually feel lucky to be invited into the character’s story. However, on my first ever cruise (blog post to follow) I read Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz.

Admission chronicles the experiences of Portia (yes, Shakespeare was the influence), a Princeton admissions officer who finds herself entangled in a web of lies, love, and the Common App. While I ate up the realistic characters, sweet romance, well done flashbacks, and slightly dark humor every time Portia dove back into the world of college admissions I found myself cringing.

See the thing that nobody tells you (and okay maybe this doesn’t happen for everybody but it happened for me) is that, if you’re planning on going to college and you really care about it, your entire senior year is consumed by thoughts of where to apply, how best to apply, how to get in, and if I do get into to more than one school, where do I want to go? So, every time Portia divulged a secret to Princeton college admission (the author actually was an admissions officer at Princeton which made it all the more hard to ignore) I felt as if I was learning something I should have known before I pressed the submit button on my applications. It also startled me to see how well the admissions office understood how the students were feeling. It made me feel secure but also so nervous that someone might actually realize how much I care and that they get to be in charge of that feeling.

Still, there was line in particular that stood out to me. I don’t have the book in front of me (I’m writing this as the boys I nanny play video games in the other room) but it was when Portia was discussing the types of students that applied to Princeton: first the crazy smart kids who have thousands of accolades and achievements (those kids who publish books in high school otherwise known as the kids who make me insecure about my future career in the present, etc.), kids who have very little to no shot in hell of getting in but decide to apply because, well, anyone can, and then the majority which were (and I’m paraphrasing/quoting/making this up as I go along here) the kids who were smart enough to realize that they weren’t smart enough to get in. When I read that line, I felt as if I was getting slapped by the truth that my family and I had tried to avoid every since I applied to an ivy league (and only one ivy league– that supplement alone nearly made me pass out every time I looked at it). I know I’m smart (or at least smart in the way my public high school defines it). Teachers, test grades, honor roll in the newspaper, and a few awards had told me so. But, I also knew that for every 92.5 (never underestimate a good .5) I get there is a kid getting an 100 and being a master ballerina and the editor in chief of the yearbook and also liking math (seriously, you kids out there that like math, how do you do it?). The amount of times I’ve moaned to my friends that I should have taken up archery because what college doesn’t want an archer is actually a little insane (and the only reason that my friends put up with this is because they are waiting for me to be done so they can bitch about their college prospects).

However, the only way I finished this book was that I realized something: for every freak out, panic attack, and crying session I have about college I also know this: wherever I go, I will be happy. And if I’m not happy then I can always transfer. Or take up archery.

On a semi-related note Admission is being made into a movie starring Tina Fey (also just read her book–so great!) and Paul Rudd so watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6fp8KswbCE

Follow me on twitter for a more day to day look at my life and my college freak outs @abbyrosej

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