Picks and Pans Review: Acceptance
by Susan Coll
REVIEWED BY JOANNE KAUFMAN
Pay attention, students. This will be on the final. Name the smartest, funniest novel in the growing genre of “app lit,” books about the college admission process. Is it a) Academy X; b) Jane Austen in Scarsdale; or c) Acceptance? You chose c? Go to the head of the class. Coll’s third novel follows the fortunes of Yates College, a small, undistinguished institution that by dint of a statistical error has made it to the list of top colleges chosen annually by U.S. News & World Report. Applicants include sulky Taylor, who’s burdened by low SAT scores and a hilariously intrusive mother; beautiful, underachieving Maya; and A.P. Harry, so named because of the extraordinary number of advanced placement courses he’s taken to impress the folks at Harvard. Harry is so obsessed that he’s memorized the U.S. News rankings and often asks his mother, the novel’s sole voice of reason, to quiz him on them. Acceptance follows the three students from their first college visits to the sealing of their fates in the spring of senior year, intercutting their travails with those of Yates’s beleaguered admissions director. This is a loony business, Coll makes clear, and she sympathizes with almost everyone caught in the undertow. Acceptance runs out of steam a bit by the end, but it’s still grade A.