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Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
Literary fiction

Prep

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Curtis Sittenfeld, on your first book!

by Curtis Sittenfeld

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Quick take

An angsty, anxious coming-of-age story that reveals the scandalous lives of elite boarding school students.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Teen

    Teens

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Unreliable

    Unreliable narrator

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Underdog

    Underdog

Synopsis

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.

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Member ratings (2,065)

  • Leah R.

    Magnolia, DE

    Have you ever looked at a book cover after you’ve finished reading the thing and thought it didn’t capture the essence of the book at all? That’s what I feel when I see this cover. A great read.

  • Hailey L.

    Denver , CO

    This book was really an insight into the life of someone with extreme anxiety and it resonated with me. I related to Lee a lot of the time with her overthinking. It was a great look into teen life.

  • Hope H.

    Sag Harbor, NY

    I loved the uppity, academic vibe of this story. I'd seen so many negative reviews that I was worried I wouldn't like it, but I really did. I agree that this is like the female Catcher in the Rye.

  • Lina V.

    Bentonville, AR

    I loved this book! I always found boarding schools to be fascinating, so I enjoy reading about them even as an adult. They have a secret society type feel and I love a peek behind the curtain.

  • Jessica F.

    St Petersburg, FL

    I really enjoyed this book, I love Curtis Sittenfeld’s writing style. I felt Lee’s character incredibly relatable in some moments that I’ve forgotten about from my own adolescence.

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