In the aftermat of Meg Mitchell Moore ’ s novel The Admissions, Angela, a senior in a high-pressure high school in a high-income neighborhood just outside San Francisco, runs a cross-country race.
We hear her labored breathing as she, whose life has been shaped by her mother, her school, her peer group, and he culture of Marin county, CA runs beyond her limits to attempt to in the ultimate prize: no, it isn ’ t th gold medal at the nd of the race; instead, it ’ s a spot at Harvard.
This cross-country race, in addition to havin a metaphor, comes to us with specific details -- the shape of a hair braid of the runner in front of Angelica -- bounces in front of her and the readers' eyes in close up.
As thi ook unfolds we slowl begin to lear that the title refers not simply to the admission process that Angela must endure as she and some of her friends apply to Harvard.
A novel has a moral arc that fiction must have if it is to appeal to its targeted audience—those hyper stressed students applying to elite schools, the moms and dads pushing the kids to go to these schools and all the educators and others who have been keeping up with stories coming out almost weekly on how bad these kids have it who hope to et in to schools that turn down 95% of those who apply.
To ive just one example, Julie Lithcott Haimes ’ book, How To Raise an Adult, has, as its thesis, the unhealthy approach that parents in these sort of communities take to raising children: " I believe that the systemic problem of overparenting is rooted in our worries about the world and about how our children can be successful in it without us.
For our kids ’ sakes, and often for our own, we want to stop parenting from fear and bring a more healthy— a more wisely loving— approach back into our communities, schools, and homes. " Julie Lythcott-Haims, .How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.
he cover story in most recent issue of The Atlantic focuses on student suicides at Gunn High School. " The Silicon Valley Suicides Why are so many kids with bright prospects killing themselves in Palo Alto? " ( Full disclosure: Julie and I are part of a podcast put out by Slate called Getting In. Julie hosts the show and I contribute commentary on the state of admission as it exists today.
While I laud Ms. Moore for writing a readable novel about the stress that pervades the tony neighborhoods around the country, I ofte have to point out that she actuall does not understand how bad it really is for kids who wan to et in to places like Harvard.
I am alway attemptin to be an alarmist or make things more stressful for those who read this but the author obviousl has the parents and teacher in this book miss stuff that no self-respecting Ivy fixed group would.
It is seldom that she is hyperbolic about everything that Angela and her family should think and do; ctually, she does indee have Angela do the things virtually any student applying to Harvard from a community she is in would do.
Thi kid with a Harvard obsessed dad and a school of Ivy hopefuls would all know the best prep programs for SAT, ACT, SAT 2 and AP course before 11th grade started.
The drug I am referring to is not weed, although I am gla there is a pretty fair amount of kids that get high in schools like this; instead it ’ s Adderall, the study drug of choice among high school and college students especially during exam periods.
Eventually, anyone who has been showing off his Harvard alum status for as long as the father does in he nove ould at least at some point play the name game once a week with someone who knew someone when he ha a college student.
Angela 's talk with Harvard admission Dean also stretches things a bit far, but I wo n't remembe much else about this as it it still a good scene within the scope of a fictional world.