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

by Curtis Sittenfeld

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,8501471,681 (3.55)147
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)
Member:GirlsSentAway
Title:Prep: A Novel
Authors:Curtis Sittenfeld
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2005), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (2005)

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    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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    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 147 mentions

English (140)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (2)  German (1)  All languages (146)
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
This was a hard one to get into in part because the main character was so incredibly passive. I know this was probably a deliberate choice on the author's part to demonstrate how a combination of anxiety and insecurity can combine to lock someone in an unhappy situation they feel powerless to change, which is actually a pretty accurate accounting of what its like to be an adolescent. That said...my goodness is it unpleasant to read about it for 400 pages. ( )
  Jthierer | Apr 13, 2021 |
(15) Oh my goodness - I loved this. This woman is one of the best American writers in my opinion. Granted, her subject matter maybe only appeals to a narrow audience (educated white women of a certain age) but she is so good at what she does do. I am very late to the party reading this book - it describes a middle-class mid-Western girl who goes to a prestigious boarding school in the North East on scholarship and exquisitely narrates the neurosis that ensues. It very much reminded me of Wolf's "I am Charlotte Simmons," which I loved and also of the memoir "Notes on a Silencing," which I read recently about St. Paul's. Lee is both the most tortured adolescent imaginable yet, a 'everywoman' that we can all relate to.

She depicted the anguish of the extreme self-consciousness of adolescence to a T. This idea that you are alone and unnoticed and everyone else moves through life so effortlessly. This concept of caring and obsessing so much, yet having to pretend you don't care. Anticipating and imaging potential awkward moments so intensely that fear of embarrassment is your guiding principle. I feel such a palpable empathy for adolescent girls even as I write.

I think this subject matter - I mean crushes, notes in class, details of adolescents sex, gossip - on the surface is pretty low brow. But I could not stop reading. I just adored Lee and all of her flaws, I will say, I am not sure the Lee we had come to know though would have given that interview in the end. It felt incongruent with the girl I knew - counting for the half star off.

I think I have read all or most of Sittenfeld's novels and they have all been similarly engaging and well-written - albeit limited in scope and appeal. 'Prep' despite being her debut, perhaps is her best. Bravo! ( )
  jhowell | Mar 26, 2021 |
The main character's feelings of isolation and her sense of being a misfit in a world with social class divisions will speak to many readers, not only those who have gone to prep school. ( )
  LindaLoretz | Mar 15, 2021 |
This wasn't quite what I expected but I liked it nonetheless. The protagonist isn't the most likable person in the world, but what teenager is? She's lost and just trying to find her place in the world. I thought the author did a pretty good job illustrating the highs and lows of being a teenager, and of trying to find yourself during high school. Add the interesting tension of being middle class in a rich prep school, and the story is an interesting study of the things that really pull at a teenage girl through such a tumultuous time in her life. ( )
  JustZelma | Dec 20, 2020 |
[Prep] is about one midwestern girl's high school experience at an East Coast boarding school. Lee is "on scholarship", which she hides carefully, and utterly terrified of being noticed but depressed that she's not noticed. A typical teenage dilemma.

The book is about teenage friendships and perceptions of the world which are obviously narrow. Lee is casually racist and sexist, without realizing she is either. She both resists the wealthy East Coast ideals, and desperately wants to be a part of them.

I liked this book, but I felt like it went on a little too long. The main character, who narrates the books, is not likable, but I still could identify in small ways with her teenage experiences. This was Sittenfeld's debut novel - it is full of great writing and insight, but is just a little clunkier than her subsequent novels. ( )
  japaul22 | Jul 12, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 140 (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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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.

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