As someone who now goes to a school littered with boarding school kids, admissions would have been a nice read if only to understand what life at fancy school is like. The book is well written, well voiced, and honest in a way I have truly not seen (perhaps because so few people have James’s experience). However, I was slightly wary by the end. James admits many times how she failed to be intersectional while at Taft, and as the child of a member of the board, this book is perhaps the story of what it was to be Black and privileged at Taft. While many of James’s BIPOC friends were on financial aid/scoffed at her privilege, I don’t think that was well explored in the book. Of course, I can’t truly fault her for this, and her perspective of course brings its own valuable insight— ie, how race alone can be a dividing factor even when not offset by socioeconomic class or sexuality or parental support, as it is for her classmates. Personally, though, as a student on financial aid at one of the fancy schools students at Taft are jockeying to go to, I just can’t ignore the gaping adjustment made by legacy status that I feel this book didn’t fully grapple with.
That being said, I still read it all within two days. Very readable, and empathetic in its voice. Would recommend, and am very glad it was written.
Kendra James attended Taft as a "legacy" meaning that her father had attended when he was a teen. Even though Taft is technically an integrated school, and was when her father attended as well, the school is really not integrated in the way that one would intend for that word to be used. Throughout her three years there and the time she spent in admissions programs following graduation, Kendra describes how Taft and other elite boarding schools in the Northeast United States were plagued by systemic racism using several personal examples.
Admissions is an excellent mix of YA drama and non-fiction diverse stories to be interesting for a variety of audiences. The blame is placed on the people within a specific institution, but readers can make parallels to their own lives and reflect on their own experiences. It is well written, easy to follow and informative but also interesting. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about microaggressions and the role privilege and racism play in the experiences of BIPOC people. Also if you are interested in boarding school culture this book would be a great read for you.
This memoir was part social critique of the very white-centered world of elite prep schools, part comedy with some of the entertaining antics Kendra and her friend for into. Kendra’s experiences were fascinating and even horrifying at times - some of the injustices and micro-aggressions she faced were astonishing. I really enjoyed reading this and thing it would be a great book for everyone to read.
Thank you to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for the advanced copy.
anniehawkinson920's review against another edition
Through saved AIM conversations and countless journals from her time as a student, you really get a sense of James’s thought process as a high schooler. Sometimes, though, it felt almost too much like I was reading a teenager’s journal or YA novel, which took away from some of the strength of the memoir for me.
lpagana93's review against another edition