Clever, double entendre titles are also a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Jean Hanff Korelitz's novel Admission is perfectly titled: it's about an admissions officer who struggles with admitting to a great secret she's hung onto for seventeen years. And on the other hand, it's just a little too cute and a little too perfect, which describes the novel adequately as well.
Coincidences are at the heart of most fiction, and most lives. Who hasn't sat around with their friends, usually a bit drunk, and speculated on how your lives would have been different had you and your spouse/best friend/girlfriend not been in the same coffee shop at the same time/at the same college/on the same bus? Well, yes, your lives would have been different; but then again, that's how you meet anyone: anything is a coincidence in retrospect. Which is why I'm not too harsh a judge of coincidence in fiction. Truth is actually stranger.
In the case of Admission, even my tolerant attitude toward coincidences had to stretch more than a little. I can't describe the coincidences I'm referring to - the whole book is built around one particular event, and while I fully expect anyone who's paying attention to figure out the great mystery within thirty pages or so, why not let you have your own fun - but believe me when I say that even the greatest credulity will be strained by some of them.
Otherwise, Admission is a perfectly decent novel. Korelitz manages to pull off a fair amount of melodrama with a light enough touch that it never becomes obnoxious. In fact, she's a good writer, with the exception of a couple of stylistic nit-picks that wouldn't, perhaps, bother anyone but me. My biggest peeve was her overuse of the emphatic double negative: "not unrelated" and the like. It's a good construction, and I use it myself, but Korelitz could have turned a few of those into positive constructions and it wouldn't have hurt the book. She also tends to repeat words that are just unusual enough to pop out at you: "... she said unkindly" and "preemptively" or "preemptive" being the two that stuck with me. There were a couple of places in which a word other than "preemptive" actually would have been more accurate, and that bothered me even more than the repetition.
Within its genre - contemporary fiction - I give Admission a solid three and a half stars. The plot isn't worth that much, and really should be more of a two and a half, but I'm adding a full star for the simple fact that the writing style isn't self-conscious or pretentious.