Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

When I applied to high schools in eigth grade, I couldn’t imagine going to a boarding school. I don’t think I was ready for a Choate or a Cate or… an Ault where the character Lee Fiora of Curtis Sittenfeld’s fictional Prep takes place. The novel is meant as a case study in the insular world of boarding school, high school on steroids. Sittenfeld touches on so many facets of high school life: scholarship, race, friends, gender, sex, academics, teachers, family, etc. There is nothing in the book that hasn’t been said before. The characters and locale do not make this a unique coming-of-age novel. But what is one-of-a-kind is the prose. The language is so well crafted to fit the changing mindset of the teenage character. The dialogue is nuanced in its awkwardness and angst. The description is teen movie-like at times. It’s a fast read and quite humorous. I’m not sure it will help any teens who feel like Lee Fiora, but it may give parents a new perspective as to what actually happens at boarding school.

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