Walking through the typical young adult section of a bookstore, there are usually five, maybe even ten, books about a teenage girl, perhaps from a small town, who transfers from that wee little town to a prep school.
Typically, this prep school is in Connecticut, or Massachusetts. Typically, the girl starts out struggling, tries to fit in with the popular crowd, misses her hometown, faces many moral problems, and meets a handsome, promising young prep school boy who shows her the ways of love. Seeing the plot of Curtis Sittenfeld's PREP for the first time, a normal reader would write it off as being another cliché prep school book.
There's where they'd be wrong.
PREP is a searing, creative look at the life of one small-town girl, Lee Fiora, who comes from her home in South Bend, Indiana, to Ault, a prep school in Massachusetts. Exposed to many new kinds of ideas and people, Lee stands on the thin line between misery and naivety as she explores all that her new life has to offer.
Sittenfeld writes about teen angst in a way that doesn't try to make it seem petty or unimportant; she embraces it, and fully understands it. This is what sets the book apart from many other titles. Wallowing in loneliness and heartbreak, the reader feels as if Lee is actually a part of them, and that they are experiencing all of the awkward and horrible events that are occurring in the story.
Lee acts as an opposite-gender Holden Caulfield, the main male character in J.D. Salinger's classic novel THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. She takes everything with a grain of salt and a little bit of dry humor while making wise observations well beyond her years. PREP is bound to become a classic, for its brutally honest interpretation of a time that plagues all of us: high school.
Reviewed by: Amanda Dissinger