Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

How did I get the book?  Magic Box Book

Genre: Contemporary

Synopsis: 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 Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding school’s glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristinely mown athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel.
As Lee soon learns, Ault is a cloistered world of jaded, attractive teenagers who spend summers on Nantucket and speak in their own clever shorthand. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of–and, ultimately, a participant in–their rituals and mores. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider and is both drawn to and repelled by other loners. By the time she’s a senior, Lee has created a hard-won place for herself at Ault. But when her behaviour takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her carefully crafted identity within the community is shattered.

200words (or less) review: On page 366 of my copy of Prep our protagonist sums herself up beautifully:

“Actually, Lee is the horrible one,” I said. “She’s totally insecure, and she complains all the time. And she’s negative.”

Prep is a very well written book that resolves around Lee’s four years at Ault – but nothing happens. The ‘highly public self-destructive behaviour’ referred to in the blurb doesn’t actually occur until you’ve reached page 430something and even then it’s dealt with the same way Lee deals with every event, pages and pages of self-pity with no acknowledgement of her own faults.

Sometimes you read books for the story, sometimes for the characters – with Prep I felt like I had neither. Lee starts the book the same way she finishes, just four years older. For me there wasn’t any growth in her character.  I know you don’t have to like the protagonist to like the book, actually sometimes the best characters are the ones you can’t stand, but Lee didn’t have enough personality to be interesting.

Curtis Sittenfeld writes beautifully but for me Prep was a very slow build up to an event that in the end hardly creates a wave in Lee’s life.

Recommend it?

Not sure

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