Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when she leaves her family behind in Indiana to attend the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. Over the next four years, her experiences at Ault - complicated relationships with teachers, intense friendships with other girls, an all-consuming preoccupation with a classmate who is less than a boyfriend and more than a crush - coalesce into a singular portrait of the universal pains and thrills of adolescence.
(Summary from back of book)
What to say about this book? I honestly don't know where to start.
There's a book every now and then that's legitimately real. Where the author knows the teenage brain backwards and forwards and is able to express that knowledge with wit, respect, and honesty. Where the teens who are reading the book find themselves inexplicably relating to the main character even though they have almost nothing in common. Where the author is able to get everyone who picks up the book to remember it, think about it, and be scared by it. Prep is one of those books.
Don't let the incongruous title and cover mislead you. This is a book about much more then a prep school and a confused, rejected girl. It's a book about growing up and dealing with all of the crap that's shoved in your face along the way.
One of the things I appreciate the most about this book is how realistic and true-to-life Lee is. She's the character that has a little bit to offer everyone. She's not entirely likeable but you can't hate her either. No one's purely angelic or purely demonic. There's a little bit of both in everyone and Curtis Sittenfeld was able to show that through all of her characters, especially Lee. They had their flaws, yes, but they were all able to live with them and make the most of what was handed to them.
That's the beauty of the human race, I think. That each of us is a little different than everyone else. No one is perfect. I find comfort in the fact that other people have survived experiences like mine. That so far, people have turned out okay. That even though each person's life is unique and different, we can relate to each other in a broader way.
Besides that, the writing in Prep was great. Lee's voice really stood out to me. I like the way Sittenfeld wrote the book - as Lee looking back on her life years later and being able to compare where she is now to where she was then. It was as if I was listening to my grandmother or my mother tell a story about their childhood except much more detailed and personal.
And how can you not love a book with quotes like these?
"The knowledge, unfortunately, wasn't much help - I still couldn't say what I wanted to becuse it was lodged inside me like a bowel movement and all that was coming out was hot stuttering air."
"And so everything has to turn out somehow, and other things happened to me - a job, graduate school, another job - and there are always words to describe the way you fill up your life, there is always a sequence of events. Although it doesn't necessarily have a relationship to the way you felt while it was occuring, there's usually some satisfaction in the neatness of its passage. Some anxiety too, but usually some satisfaction."
Prep is a thoughtful, sincere, and heartfelt portrayal of teenage life. It takes one seemingly simple girl's experience and turns it into something to be learned from and something to be appreciated. I highly suggest this to anyone who's looking for a book that will change the way they look at themselves and even how they look at everyone around them.