- Non Fiction
Prep (Paperback) by Curtis Sittenfeld
List Price: £8.99
Paperback: 480 Pages.
Published: 22 July 2010 by Black Swan
Review by Anne
(4 from a possible 5)
The American class system examined in depth
Lee Fiora comes from a small town but obtains a scholarship to an exclusive private school - confusingly for British readers called a prep school when she is actually a teenager. Lee has shone in her home environment but she is out of place at Ault in every way and she finds as she progresses through school that she is an outsider at school and increasingly at home as well. The story is told from the point of view of Lee as an adult so she is distanced from the experience by time as well and she can insert some analysis about what were the important events and why they happened.
Lee is an amazing creation. You really understand what it feels like to be an outsider and to have different experiences and aspirations than your peers. You understand that she lives in fear of being rejected and why she herself rejects others who are in a similar situation - you understand but at times it is difficult to excuse Lee's cowardice. It brings to mind all those times that you have gone along with the crowd when you knew it was wrong. That is the beauty of the writing in this book in that you can identify with Lee even while you have absolutely nothing in common with her circumstances.
The book is actually rather depressing and at times a scathing indictment of privilege and a sense of entitlement. It is surprisingly gripping although it is quite a long book but this is definitely an adult's book -it is not a school story as read by teenagers. The school is a reflection of our society - those with money and breeding are at the top and there is no way in for the rest of us. This is a book that shows that when we aspire to rise there is no place anywhere for us.