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Prep: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld
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Prep: A Novel (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Curtis Sittenfeld

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4,4111371,112 (3.57)131
Member:laurelosterkamp
Title:Prep: A Novel
Authors:Curtis Sittenfeld
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2005), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (2005)

  1. 30
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  4. 10
    Moo by Jane Smiley (sweetbug)
    sweetbug: Moo is also a coming of age novel, but it is set in a Midwestern college town at an ag school (hence the title). More humor and less drama than Prep, but a similar feel.
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  6. 10
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  7. 00
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    BookshelfMonstrosity: Although Prep is realistic fiction written for adults and Conversion is a YA mashup of suspense and historical fiction, both books detail the complex social interactions of elite Northeastern prep schools with intense, sometimes gut-wrenching, precision.… (more)
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    veritas: Prep is a far more sophisticated novel in a lot of ways, but Crush evokes a very similar feeling.
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» See also 131 mentions

English (130)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  English (136)
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
Read in summer 2007, re-read September 2016.

Quotes

But I was living my life sideways. I did not act on what I wanted, I did not say the things I thought, and being so stifled and clamped all the time left me exhausted; no matter what I was doing, I was always imagining something else. Grades felt peripheral, but the real problem was, everything felt peripheral. (40)

I felt a familiar jealousy of boys. I didn't want what they had, but I wished that I wanted what they wanted; it seemed like happiness was easier for them. (44)

...all I ever did was watch other students and feel curious about them and feel dazzled by their breeziness and wracked by the impossible gaping space between us, my horrible lack of ease, my inability to be casual. (162)

I think it often comes down to nothing but contrast - the way that it's only when you're sick that you wonder why, during the months and months of being up and about, you never appreciated your health. (175-176)

I hated them all at this moment, the indifferent students and faculty and the inconsiderate parents and my own family, for being somehow reliant on kindness that wasn't extended. (193)

How was I supposed to understand, when I applied at the age of thirteen, that you have your whole life to leave your family? (205)

The big occurrences in life, the serious ones, have for me always been nearly impossible to recognize because they never feel big or serious. (211)

This desperate aversion to seeming like you wanted anything, or worse, to going after it, stayed with me for years after I left Ault. (249)

And now I knew myself to be generous with encouragement only when I either did not want the thing the other person sought or did not believe the person would really get it. It was the opposite of what I aspired to... (278)

When you go to boarding school, you're always leaving your family, not once but over and over, and it's not like it is in college because you're older then and you're sort of supposed to be gone from them. (349)

"I bet things would be easier for you if you either realized you're not that weird or decided that being weird isn't bad." (Cross to Lee, 381)
  JennyArch | Sep 6, 2016 |
This wasn't at all the bright, bouncy beach read I had expected it to be (or frankly, that I thought was promised by the pink-and-green Lilly Pulitzer-esque belt on the cover). It was actually a somewhat dark and fraught coming-of-age tale. I enjoyed it enough to check out what other books the author (who is female, despite the name's appearance the contrary) has written.

In short, a surprisingly good read. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
Narrated by Julie Dretzin. Covers the four years that Lee Fiora attends Ault School in Massachusetts on scholarship. She feels like an outsider at the boarding school among her wealthy and more beautiful classmates. Eventually she finds some sort of comfort level: she finds a good friend in Martha and for a while is known for her haircutting skills. In her senior year, she becomes involved in a secret sexual affair with Cross, a popular boy in her class and a longtime crush. Still, Lee feels her position at Ault is emotionally and socially precarious. The scale is tipped when her critical quotes are the focus of a NYT article about boarding school. Her fear of ostracism comes full circle.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Prep is the story of Lee Fiora a young girl from Indiana who was convinced that her life would be somehow improved by attending boarding school. At the age of 13 she fills out all the applications and gets accepted into Ault along with a scholarship to pay most of the tuition. But Ault is not at all what she expected. What follows is the typical tale of teenage angst.

I read this book for a book club and I'm still not sure what I think about it. One the one hand I'm not sure where the book was going. It didn't feel like it really had a point and just rambled through Lee's life. But at the same time I also felt like I really understood all that she was going through. The college I went to shared many qualities with Ault and I was, in many ways, Lee. My emotions weren't as dramatic, but that may only be the difference of age.

I had a hard time rating this book because of my conflicting emotions. It's ability to make me think and reflect on my own life deserves more than the three stars I gave it. But in the end the fact that as I was reading it, I couldn't figure out what the book was actually about dragged my rating down. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
This book fascinated me, and I have a feeling it will stay with me for a while. The word I keep thinking of to describe it is heart-wrenching, but that seems silly for a book about teen angst. Whatever the actual word may be, I felt her awkwardness and pain. ( )
  melaniefaith | Dec 2, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
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For my parents, Paul and Betsy Sittenfeld;
my sisters, Tiernan and Josephine;
and my brother, P.G.
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I think that everything, or at least the part of everything that happened to me, started with the Roman architecture mix-up.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 081297235X, Paperback)

Curtis Sittenfeld's poignant and occassionally angst-ridden debut novel Prep is the story of Lee Fiora, a South Bend, Indiana, teenager who wins a scholarship to the prestigious Ault school, an East Coast institution where "money was everywhere on campus, but it was usually invisible." As we follow Lee through boarding school, we witness firsthand the triumphs and tragedies that shape our heroine's coming-of-age. Yet while Sittenfeld may be a skilled storyteller, her real gift lies in her ability to expertly give voice to what is often described as the most alienating period in a young person's life: high school.

True to its genre, Prep is filled with boarding school stereotypes--from the alienated gay student to the picture perfect blond girl; the achingly earnest first-year English teacher and the dreamy star basketball player who never mentions the fact that he's Jewish. Lee's status as an outsider is further affirmed after her parents drive 18 hours in their beat-up Datsun to attend Parent's Weekend, where most of the kids "got trashed and ended up skinny-dipping in the indoor pool" at their parents' fancy hotel. Yet even as the weekend deteriorates into disaster and ends with a heartbreaking slap across the face, Sittenfeld never blames or excuses anyone; rather, she simply incorporates the experience into Lee's sense of self. ("How was I supposed to understand, when I applied at the age of thirteen, that you have your whole life to leave your family?")

By the time Lee graduates from Ault, some readers may tire of her constant worrying and self-doubting obsessions. However, every time we feel close to giving up on her, Sittenfeld reels us back in and makes us root for Lee. In doing so, perhaps we are rooting for every high school student who's ever wanted nothing more than to belong. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:07 -0400)

In the late 1980s, for reasons even she has difficulty pinpointing, fourteen-year-old Lee Fiora leaves her middle-class, close-knit, ribald family in Indiana and enrolls at Ault, an elite co-ed boarding school in Massachusetts. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of, and ultimately a participant in, their rituals and mores, although, as a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider. By the time she's a senior, Lee has found her place at Ault. But when her behavior takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her hard-won identity within the community is shattered. Lee's experiences, complicated relationships with teachers, intense and sometimes rancorous friendships with other girls, an all-consuming preoccupation with a classmate who is less than a boyfriend and more than a crush, are both a psychologically astute portrait of one girl's coming-of-age and an embodiment of the painful and thrilling adolescence universal to us all.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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