Monday, November 3, 2008

PREP...a.k.a the book with the ribbon belt on the cover.

The first time I read Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld, I think I finished it in one day, and then stayed up until five in the morning with my then-roommate discussing which celebrities we envisioned playing all of the characters. It was a pretty intellectual conversation, and we ended up somehow casting it as a Muppet movie…oh yes; this is a book which inspires frilly, funny and unpredictable conversation. If there is one clearly identifiable aspect of this novel which makes it so addictive, it is the tell-all, multi-dimensional nature of Lee Fiora, the novel’s “author” who shares her experience at boarding school from start to finish. Lee confesses everything; stabbing feelings of inadequacy, fascination with other girls, a crippling crush on a boy named Cross Sugarman (the untouchably cool name tells it all), and passive attempts to exhibit boldness within the intricate boarding school society. Sittenfeld, through the character of Lee, exposes all the raw and unspoken emotions experienced in high school, and although it is not a great work of literature, it is familiar, comforting, and oddly cathartic. It is interesting; I have had many conversations with people who have read this book, and they are all strikingly similar. They all begin with, “I had no idea other people felt this way in high school…I thought I was the only one!” Now why is it that it takes a work of fiction to evoke conversations about the realities of life? The point is, if we only knew in middle school; in high school; in college, that we all sometimes feel inadequate, desperately alone, isolated, or so very un-cool, then I believe there wouldn’t be so much animosity among girls and women. I think sometimes, girls are mean because they are experiencing pain, and assume that other girls are not feeling the same way, and therefore feel the need to bring others down. If this book can offer a fun way to look back and laugh over high school insecurities, while still reassuring girls that they are not alone, then I think Sittenfeld has accomplished what she set out to do. This book deals with sexuality, it deals with the loss of virginity, and therefore is somewhat “scandalous” for young girls; so I really doubt it would be found in a classroom. But, I would definitely give it to a little sister or cousin…or classmate/friend. It’s awesome; read it!


Crissssay said...

I haven't read this book..yet. But it seems like a lot of other books out there that are relatable on some level to girls: the crush, the fight with a friend, traumas, bad decisions, hidden desires, questions and so on. I agree with you, if so many girls feel this way why dont we talk about it!! Obviously there is a market for these books and discussing real individual stories would be even better for girls! I read Gossip Girl in high school and though I could relate on some level, I always just wished I could be in that expensive lifestyle more than working on the issues I related to. We need to bring things back to a personal level with all different classes of people with the magic of zines :)

j.leigh said...

BEST. BOOK. EVER. I was (im)patiently waiting to read your blog because I knew how much you loved this book, and I couldn't wait to read what you had to say. I love so much what you wrote about coming together over a book, and I wish there were more ways, more dinners, and more consciousness raisings where we could come together and talk about these issues and experiences from our own perspectives, not through the eyes of another work (though this literature IS very important and much needed!). Thanks again for letting me in on this wonderful book.