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Prep
Prep
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Curtis Sittenfeld's debut novel, Prep, is an insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition. Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Mass...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780812972351
ISBN-10: 081297235X
Publication Date: 11/22/2005
Pages: 448
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 623

3.4 stars, based on 623 ratings
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Prep on + 132 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
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.
reviewed Prep on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
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!
reviewed Prep on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
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.
reviewed Prep on + 120 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
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.
reviewed Prep on + 161 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
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!
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reviewed Prep on + 155 more book reviews
The book its self was ok. It made me think about when I was a kid and had wanted to go to boarding school. It also made me consider if I would ever allow my daughter to go to one. There were many times that I felt like I could understand what Lee was going through, and my heart hurt for her. There were other times, like in most tween stories that I read, that I just wanted to strangle her for being so naive. But I guess that's what the teenage years are for.
reviewed Prep on + 19 more book reviews
I loved this one. Susan Cain referenced this book a few times in "Quiet: The Power of Introverts.." so I thought I'd check it out.

Lee is an introvert with an inferiority complex. On scholarship at a very wealthy New England boarding school, she manages to convince herself that she'll never match up with her peers at anything. This results in a shyness to participate in life, a keen observational style and sometimes snobbery. She can be an unlikeable character, but she is definitely one of the more honest and relateable characters in fiction today.

Some of the conversations and characters in her peer group are so spot-on, it's almost heartbreaking. There are no one-dimensional people, or situations, here. Some parts were uncomfortable to read, like her "relationship" with the only boy in class who pays any attention to her, and the way she treats a classmate and teacher, both of whom she disdains for trying too hard - but they ring true.

This is an engaging, well-written book with surprising depth. It's written from the point of view of Lee as an adult, so there's some removal from the teen angst, but it is angsty... But if you ever were a teenager, or an outsider, it comes highly recommended.
reviewed Prep on + 3 more book reviews
Loved this book! First discovered Curtis Sittenfeld through American Wife, which I also loved. Read Prep and Man of My Dreams, and Prep is definitely my favorite out of those three. For anyone who has gone off to college or prep school and felt like they weren't quite fitting in the way they thought they would, this is a perfect read.


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