Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Random House, 2005
I remember reading reviews about this book in some "upscale" magazines and seeing it displayed in prominent areas of my favorite bookstores just after its release. I bought it a couple of years ago when it was on the 2 for 3 rack at Borders. Fast forward to last week. J.D. Salinger, author of the classic book on teenage angst - Catcher in the Rye - passed away. When I was looking for something to read, I saw Prep sitting on my shelf, and recalled a reading a review that described it as a more modern version of Catcher in the Rye with a female protagonist. Prep's time finally came.
Prep is NOT Catcher in the Rye and the protagonist has little resemblance to Holden Caulfield -- IMHO. Lee Fiora is the self-professed "nobody from Indiana" at Ault, a Massachusetts boarding school. This daughter of a mattress salesman is the first person in her family to go to boarding school. Her parents are still quite perplexed as to why she wanted to do this, but that's explained in the book (and also explains quite a bit about her personality.) Lee's description of life at Ault is fairly interesting for the first 200 pages or so. But eventually, it gets old. I started skimming after about page 240.
I didn't like Lee at all. In fact, she's one of my least favorite literary characters ever. She's insecure, snobby, and often irrational in her behavior. I expected some growth over her four years at Ault, but was disappointed. There was just nothing redeeming about her. Holden Caulfield would have called her phony. I just stopped caring.
But I did skim on through to the end. I can't say that I'm glad. For me, Prep was a colossal waste of time that would have been better spent reading just about anything else. This is really sad to me, because the writing was good, and the story had so much potential. In the end, I was hugely disappointed.
I need a good book, but I'm not in the mood for another mystery just yet. Hmm. What will be next?