Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when she leaves her family behind in Indiana to attend the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. Over the next four years, her experiences at Ault – complicated relationships with teachers, intense friendships with other girls, and all-consuming preoccupation with a classmate who is less than a boyfriend and more than a crush – coalesce into a singular portrait of the universal pains and thrills of adolescence.
Design – Allison Saltzman Photo – Rick Schwab Rating – 2/5
I don’t know what to say about this cover. It makes it look vaguely like chick-lit, which is supposed to be light and fun. Instead, this is 400 pages of plotless angst. Sure, the title and the belt go together because pink and green is a ‘preppy’ combo, but this cover doesn’t reflect the content of the book in my opinion. I’m really not sure what would. This actually kind of looks like a weight loss or dieting book. The only plus for this cover is that the belt wraps around the cover completely – over the spine and onto the back cover.
Prep is like a less funny Jessica Darling book (reviews for those here). It follows a girl named Lee for her entire high school career at a snobby boarding school, but technically Lee is an adult done with college and she is looking back on her high school years. Lee is very self-conscience. She’s so judgmental of others, so she assumes that everyone else is judging her and she overthinks everything. I didn’t like Lee very much, and overall I felt like Prep was too long and too dull for me, plus Lee frustrated me a lot.
- Assassins – If I can say I enjoyed a part of Prep, it would be the chapter about the game of Assassins the whole student body played. Get a target, tag them without anyone seeing you, continue until one person is left standing. It’s simple, interesting, and involved people outside of Lee’s head. The strategy was fun to read about – it was the highlight of the book for me. The only time Lee acted her age in a fun way.
- secondary characters – Lee’s friends are strangely temporary in her life, but they are all unique people. Lee is friends with a girl named Conchita for a while. They’re pretty close – Lee teaches Conchita how to ride a bike and she’s basically Lee’s only friend – until Lee, Conchita, and Conchita’s friend Martha go into town to have a fancy dinner with Conchita’s mom. So, Lee and Martha get treated to a limo ride and the most expensive meal they’ve ever had, yet they both gossip about Conchita on the way back to school and end up ditching her to be BFFs. Conchita was really interesting – she dressed wildly and had her own opinions. Martha is genuinely nice, but Lee is envious when she becomes senior prefect. Instead of supporting her friend, Lee takes Marth’s success personally and makes it all about herself. I wish Lee had been a better friend to these girls, because Conchita, Martha, and even Sin-Jun were much more interesting than Lee herself.
- what year is it?! – I have no freaking clue what years Prep takes place in. Yes, she’s looking back on her high school years, but what year is she looking back on and what year is it now? The book was 1st published in 2005, but Lee talks about how email existed but no one knew what it was. The dorms have a single pay phone each, and Lee is a bit racist. I have no idea what year this is! I’m pretty sure it’s never mentioned, so help?
- money – Everyone at Ault is ridiculously wealthy, and Lee is one of a handful of scholarship students. Lee is so preoccupied with fitting in with the rich kids – worrying about her parents’ behavior during parent weekend, snubbing the kitchen staff, and never standing up for herself so she won’t get singled out. The whole class system going on at Ault is understandable to a certain point. It’s a fancy New England boarding school, where the students use lower middle class as an insult. What I hate is how Lee acts in order to fit in with these snobs – insulting teachers’ clothes, kissing up to the rich girls, ignoring people who are seen as lesser by her peers, being embarrassed by the mere presence of her family.
- Lee – Lee is really not a likable or interesting person. She alters her personality to fit in with people she doesn’t even like. She is critical of herself because she isn’t naturally like these rich kids without a care in the world. Lee likes to blame other people for everything that goes wrong in her life. When someone else makes a mistake, Lee judges them harshly, but for all her self-evaluation she never sees what she is doing wrong. Lee is flawed, which can make a character easy to relate to, but there’s just something about Lee and the way she’s narrating the story – with no regret about her actions, seeming like she barely cares – that makes her someone I just didn’t want to root for. If you can’t relate to the main character, and you really don’t care what happens to her, it makes for a boring read.
- Lee + Cross – I will admit, my main reason for finishing Prep was Cross. Lee’s early encounter with Cross at the mall makes him seem so sweet that I wanted to see what would happen when he and Lee reconnected. They both disappointed me so deeply. Cross shows up out of nowhere to push a physical relationship with Lee, and seems like he couldn’t care less about her life. Lee sets boundaries immediately, keeping Cross at arm’s length based on her own perceptions about their differing social classes, but then she’s upset when Cross does what she wants. She obsesses over how he’s ignoring her, conveniently forgetting that she basically ordered him to do so, and makes her entire life revolve around their interactions. Cross doesn’t try to have an actual emotional connection with Lee, and Lee treats Cross like he’s a god that she’s not worthy of. They use someone else’s bed to have sex, without ever thinking or caring about cleaning up afterwards. They use each other and they argue about it and I can’t stand either of them.
“You go out with Sophie Thruler, don’t you?”
“Jesus,” he said. “What are you, a spy?”
“But you do, right?”
“Is it the KGB or the FBI that you work for? Just tell me that.”
“It’s the KGB. They’re really, really interested in your love life.” – pg. 54 Lee + Cross
“For what reason do you need a fishing pole?” Madame asked. Overall, she seemed far less surprised by our appearance at her door than I’d have anticipated.
“We want to send something down to McGrath’s room, like a note,” I said. “He lives underneath Heidi and Alexis. But we’ll be quiet, and we won’t take very long.”
“But if you do such a thing”- Madame began, and I thought she was going to say, you will violate curfew. What she said instead was – “McGrath will know he is your target.”
“No, he knows already,” I said. “I tried to kill him when we were leaving chapel, and bunch of his friends saw me.” – pg. 93 Lee + Madame Broussard