Friday, July 24, 2009

PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld (2005)

If I had an acute ear for dialogue and the creative talent necessary to be a fiction writer, this is a novel I wish I'd thought to write. Because I've been immersed in private school culture for almost twenty years and because I remember my own brother as an adolescent at a boarding school and the antics he and his friends got up to and because my own adolescence was tortured in the way the protagonist's is, I had much of the same raw material.

However, I do not have Curtis Sittenfeld's ability to write with apparent ease and to create believable characters in credible situations.

Lee Fiora is an observant and intelligent 14-year-old when she begins life as a scholarship student at a prestigious Massachusetts boarding school in her freshman year. Accustomed to the pleasure of her own company, Lee is socially awkward, but manages to adjust to the insider rules by which the sons and daughters of the rich and very rich seem to play.

By the time Lee is in her graduating year, she has established herself as unique and independent rather than simply the loner she was when she began her life at Ault. And, like a typical teenager, she becomes distracted by the lure of sex and almost obsessed by her conflicts with her parents and some of her peers.

Luckily Lee has a true friend in Martha Porter, who supports her through the mess that adolescence almost always is.

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