Ok, so I admit I tend to judge a book by it’s cover! It definitely is one of the factors that leads me to picking up a book, so when I first saw Prep, I thought “Ok, it looks light”, which was what I was looking for at the particular point in time.
Prep turned out to be the total opposite! With a faint Catcher In The Rye quality to it, the book is certainly not gripping in that “oh my god I can’t put it down for even a second” kind of way, but it definitely had me interested throughout. Some people might get bored, or annoyed, or pissed off with the main character’s constant under-playing, undermining of herself, but quite honestly I related to almost everything she felt in a guilty sort of way. As Curtis Sittenfeld’s Wikipedia page says : “[Prep] concerns a girl from South Bend, Indiana, who goes to an elite boarding school near Boston, Massachusetts. The plot deals with coming of age and class distinctions in the preppy and competitive atmosphere of the school.”
Lee Fiora, the main character, is someone you’re not likely to spot first in a crowd. And she is well aware of that. It’s not that she’s awkward, a freak, a geek, or humorless. In her eyes, and probably the rest of her peers’, she is ordinary. Lee joins the elite Ault boarding school, but can never explain why. But as a reader, you don’t find the need to question it, just as Lee doesn’t find the need to explain why. Perhaps she wanted to be something special, maybe feel ordinary in “snob school”, but still Lee joins, as one of the few scholarship students. The book was refreshing in the sense that Lee doesn’t do something grand and spectacular that spirals her into the glowing warm spotlight. She doesn’t “find” herself, or end up with the perfect romance. She just emerges probably as real as she was at the start of the story. And, as everybody at Ault School loves to say, “therein lies the paradox”.
This book didn’t change my life. I didn’t fall for the male character. I don’t come out admiring Lee for any of her traits. because I already know those traits, some that I have hidden, some that I have tried to hide and failed, and some that I have allowed to emerge and I’m damn proud that I did.
After all, I did have my own Ault School.