Very well written, this book felt in many places like a memoir rather than a fictional account. It's a coming of age story with a twist: although told in the first person and the present tense, the narrator's voice is obviously a bit older and wiser than the main character, viewing her own struggles and triumphs with an eye that is sometimes sardonic and sometimes wistful.
This book was so good - I was tempted to keep it for my daughter to read when she grows up. It was a slow start, but after I got into it, I could not put it down. No matter what cliche you were part of in high school, you will be able to relate to the characters. All the things you thought and felt no one else was going through - this author clearly understands. She did a great job capturing the turbulent emotions of teenagers. If you have a teenage girl - you should definitely check out this book. Excellent read!
This was definitely one of the most engrossing novels I've read so far this year. PREP is the story of Lee, an insightful and eloquent (yet insecure) teen from Indiana. Remembering words her middle class father spoke years before ("these are the kinds of houses where they send their sons to boarding school"), she has made it her goal to attend an elite boarding school. And she achieves it-- with a scholarship. The story commences as Lee begins her first year at Ault (think Andover) and concludes as she graduates four years later. Lee's story is told as a kind of memoir-- she's an adult now, recalling these events of years before.
This was an Amazon recommendation since I read Tom Brown's Schooldays. And, it's similar-- a bit. Like Schooldays, History Boys, Charlotte Simmons, and even Harry Potter, etc., the book follows the lives of several teens during their formative years. I'm not sure everyone would like it-- I'm not sure I'd recommend it to my husband, for instance, but it was indeed excellent. The author, Curtis Sittenfeld , really has the voice of a young insecure teen growing into a more confident, but never completely secure, young woman. Initiallly, I thought the author was a man and was completely taken aback-- how could a man actually know this girl so thoroughly? However, Curtis Sittenfeld is indeed a woman. And, the protagonist and her friends and classmates lives were exactly as I remembered my own life and those of my friends and classmates during high school. Truly, the authenticity the author brought to this book-- the dialogue, the events, the crushes, the friendships-- was uncanny.
I've read the negative reviews here, but disagree with some of the reasoning. One reviewer, for instance, writes about how boring the sex scenes were. With all due respect, that reviewer missed the point-- of course the sex was boring and empty and that was the very purpose of writing about it. So much the narrator believed or hoped to be important was or turned out to be empty and insignificant (even while remaining a pivotal event in her own life).
If you're female and if your own memories of high school are less than ideal, I completely recommend this book but also warn you to read this with caution. For me, this brought back memories I haven't even thought about in years. And, worse, it made some of those memories absolutely new-- as if they happened yesterday. Obsessions over insignificant events become magnified . . . analyzing and over-analyzing every response and comment from every person within your social circle. . . reading between the lines when the lines themselves are perfectly clear. . . accepting much less than you deserve. . . giving less to others than they deserve (or maybe worse-- giving more to others than warranted). . . Prep will make all these memories new again.
While I liked the references to the 80s teen culture (as I was also a teen in the 80s), I absolutely could not stand the main character, Lee. I cannot remember reading a book where I so disliked the main character. She was so irritating, I contemplated just quitting the book, but I wanted to see how it ended. I'm glad I read it, but I still can't get over how much I disliked Lee. It made me wonder if the author had any of the character flaws like Lee...and if she did, I feel sorry for her!
I really enjoyed this and felt I could relate to the main character, Lee, on many levels. She's an unusually introverted, sensitive character; that's how she chooses to be. She isn't the butt of school pranks or even a victim of "mean girl" teasing, so don't even think that's what this book is about. Rather, this is just the collective views and thoughts of a midwestern girl trying to graduate from a WASPy New England prep school. Her narration and observations into her rich classmates are spot-on, from the casual way in which they pay $3000 for laundry service to the flowery bedspreads that cover the rich girl's beds. The whole rich vs. poor theme really didn't seem offensive, nor was it overly played. The part that struck me was the reaction of Lee's father, and the way his teasing became increasingly cruel and hurtful.
The end of the book, where there is conflict with Lee giving a scandalous "tell-all" interview to a NYT reporter seemed overly done and out of place. Aside from the ending, the book is quite entertaining.