Acceptance: A Novel

Susan Coll, Author . Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux $23 (286p) ISBN 978-0-374-23719-6

Coll (karlmarx.com ; Rockville Pike ) sends up college admissions in an overstuffed social comedy. The novel tracks three juniors-going-on-seniors as they and their families run the gauntlet of SATs, admissions essays, campus tours and rejection letters. It begins with AP Harry (named for the large number of advanced placement courses he takes) and his mother visiting Yates College, a ramshackle school enjoying popularity after U.S. News & World Report erroneously put it on its list of top schools. Also on campus are Harry's classmates Maya Kaluantharana, who'd rather swim laps than prowl library stacks, and Taylor Rockefeller, whose sole criterion for a college is having a private bathroom in her dorm room. As the months tick by and the students wait for acceptance letters, the book meanders through career maneuvering and faculty bed-hopping at Yates, a lawsuit brought against Yates, Harry's obsession with Harvard and Taylor's mother realizing the cause of her daughter's ambivalence toward college. The narrative is heavily peppered with contemporary miscellany (Hurricane Katrina, echoes of the Larry Summers controversy, Facebook, disputes about the SAT's importance), though the mentions often seem like afterthoughts. The surfeit of characters and narrative side trips creates a few pacing logjams, but Coll's deadpan wit and sympathy for her characters are more than redeeming. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 11/20/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 303 pages - 978-0-312-42696-5
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-3358-2
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