Friday, May 29, 2009

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

I'm a little behind on reading (and reviewing) this amazing book, as it was released in 2005 by Curtis Sittenfeld and was a very successful first book for this amazing author. I started reading it when it first came out and for reasons that are unknown to me today, I did not finish it. However, after reading American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld's third and newest novel I knew I had to pick Prep back up again.
Boy, oh boy am I glad I did! Prep's main character is teenager Lee Fiora from South Bend, Indiana who decides to apply to the prestigious boarding school, Ault in Massachusetts after seeing a glossy brochure featuring old brick buildings, pristine lawns and preppy coeds. Lee is accepted into the school and offered a scholarship, so her parents allow her to go for the great opportunity. Lee quickly learns that the East Coast is definitely very different from the Midwest.
Lee is a quiet girl that doesn't draw attention to herself, she's not considered popular but she's not considered nerdy either. In my opinion she's the girl that is everyone's friend, but maintains an aura of mystery around her at all times. She is extremely observant of her classmates and even of students in the classes above her. She studies the yearbooks and knows everyone's names as well as their bios.
It's hard not to relate to Lee (even if you were the most popular girl in school - which, lets face it, most people weren't) she's unsure of herself and questions everything. All she wants is to be normal, but at Ault she anything but normal. Her classmates are made up of almost entirely East coast kids that come from wealthy families. Lee is from a lower middle class family in Indiana. Her classmates send out their laundry to be cleaned for a "small" fee of $3000 per year, Lee does her laundry herself. Her classmates don't think about tuition or how to pay for it, while Lee is there on a scholarship.
My favorite part of the book is during her junior (or sophomore year, not quite sure) she does a favor for the most popular girl in school. By chance the most popular boy in school (and coincidently Lee's crush) is there as well. During the little amount of time she spends with these two students, who are regarded as the same level as celebrities, Lee realizes that they are just as weird as she is. Essentially, realizing they are no different from one another.
The problems Lee faces during her four years at boarding school are not unlike any problems that a typical high school student faces. It's hard to be confident at this time in your life when you're not sure who you are.

I definitely suggest reading this book if you went to a public or private high school, everyone will find a reason to identify with Lee whether popular in high school or not. 

5 comments:

Lauren said...

I absolutely love this book. I read it the year it came out because, while working at a bookstore, I was intrigued by the cover. I think it's a great book for girls growing up to read - to see that many people go through the same situations. Sittenfeld has a phenomenal essay about the same thing - how we, as girls, sometimes change ourselves for others but in the end miss the easier days. My one problem with the novel, however, was the ending. It just...ended. No redemption, no feeling, nothing. Regardless, Prep is still by far one of my favorite books.

I have yet to read American Wife, simply because I really didn't like Sittenfeld's follow up novel to Prep. It was a similar story, yet told with not as much heart. I have heard good things about American Wife, though, so I'm keen to read it.

Katie said...

This is probably one of the best books I've read in several years. I read it my first year of grad school and absolutely loved it. So many times reading it, I felt like the author had stolen something from my own diary. Really, it tells the story of a girl who doesn't really know where she fits in the world, and I think any girl who's ever felt that way (isn't that most of us?) can relate.

robynxx said...

This sounds like a book I'll definitely have to check out! I did hear about it here and there for a while, but never got around to it... Looks like I've been out on something awesome!

Great review! =)

Cheers

Shelby W. said...

I have just read this book for an english analysis project, and I absolutely loved the book. However, I am having a difficult time with the analysis. Then again, that could be because I have no idea what an analysis is.

Shelby W. said...

I have just read this book for an english analysis project, and I absolutely loved the book. However, I am having a difficult time with the analysis. Then again, that could be because I have no idea what an analysis is.