Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
A Novel

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Curtis Sittenfeld’s debut novel, Prep, is an insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition.

Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding school’s glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristinely mown athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel.

As Lee soon learns, Ault is a cloistered world of jaded, attractive teenagers who spend summers on Nantucket and speak in their own clever shorthand. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of–and, ultimately, a participant in–their rituals and mores. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider and is both drawn to and repelled by other loners. By the time she’s a senior, Lee has created a hard-won place for herself at Ault. But when her behavior takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her carefully crafted identity within the community is shattered.

Ultimately, Lee’s experiences–complicated relationships with teachers; intense friendships with other girls; an all-consuming preoccupation with a classmate who is less than a boyfriend and more than a crush; conflicts with her parents, from whom Lee feels increasingly distant, coalesce into a singular portrait of the painful and thrilling adolescence universal to us all.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Curtis Sittenfeld's Sisterland.

About Curtis Sittenfeld

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Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of The Man of My Dreams and Prep, which was chosen by The New York Times as one of the Ten Best Books of 2005. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Salon, Allure, Glamour, and on public radio's This American Life. Her books are being translated into twenty-five languages. www.curtissittenfeld.comFrom the Hardcover edition.
Published January 11, 2005 by Random House. 448 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Prep

Kirkus Reviews

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Seduced by media depictions of glamorous boarding-school life, South Bend teenager Lee Fiora uses her straight-A average as a ticket out of her LCM (lower middle class, in prep-school speak) home, winning a scholarship to tony Ault.

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The New York Times

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While Lee is obviously bright, her parents are confused as to why she'd want to leave Indiana, and her perfectly acceptable local high school, for an expensive private school on the East Coast.

Jan 16 2005 | Read Full Review of Prep: A Novel

The Guardian

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Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld Picador £12.99, pp403 Lee Fiora is a dorky 14-year-old from an embarrassingly ordinary family in South Bend, Indiana, who ends up at Ault, an exclusive Massachusetts boarding school.

Sep 11 2005 | Read Full Review of Prep: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Lee sees herself as "one of the mild, boring, peripheral girls" among her privileged classmates, especially the über-popular Aspeth Montgomery, "the kind of girl about whom rock songs were written," and Cross Sugarman, the boy who can devastate with one look ("my life since then has been spent in...

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Book Reporter

PREP is a delightful novel that focuses on Lee Fiora, who hails from South Bend, Indiana and decides to go to a posh boarding school near Boston.

Jan 19 2011 | Read Full Review of Prep: A Novel

AV Club

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In the bravura, novella-length closing chapter, Sittenfeld depicts Lee's yearlong affair with another student who wants to embrace her in private while keeping her at arm's length in public.

Feb 08 2005 | Read Full Review of Prep: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Lee Fiora is a middle-class, Midwestern girl who finds herself at an elite Northeast boarding school filled with lacrosse-playing WASPs who inspire in our heroine both a drooling envy and a sense of alienation.

Jan 17 2005 | Read Full Review of Prep: A Novel

Suite 101

An extremely well-thought out book with great plot twists and details, Prep is not your regular high-school experience.

Jun 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Prep: A Novel

London Review of Books

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Bookmarks Magazine

John Knowles (1960): Drawing on his experience at Phillips Exeter Academy, Knowles depicts a New England boys’ boarding school during the early part of World War II.

Jan 19 2008 | Read Full Review of Prep: A Novel

Mother Jones

Sittenfeld clearly believes the reclusive Laura Bush is, underneath her dowdy exterior, a fascinating character study, but even in Sittenfeld's skilled hands, Bush proves no more gripping in fiction than she does in real life.

Sep 03 2008 | Read Full Review of Prep: A Novel

Birmingham Public Library

A school where “being rich, in the end, counted for the most.” Soon Lee finds she neither fits into this world or her old home in South Bend, Indiana.

Oct 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Prep: A Novel

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