by Ellie Nelson
Teenage-audience directed books sometimes have an atmosphere which doesn’t feel genuine, probably because most of them follow a simple plot-line of boy meets girl. As cliche as it is, this theme is not unrealistic, yet it seems that authors struggle to make their stories feel real. Part of this is probably because their readers can relate a little too well to the characters’ experiences, and it is because of this common struggle that I was surprised at how blatantly honest Curtis Sittenfeld illustrated the life of Lee Fiora in Prep.
Lee isn’t exactly a likable character. She did and thought things that I was fully unsupportive of and at times I despised her for it. The fact that I kept reading, despite my lack of sympathy for Lee, was because she reminded me of things in myself and in other people that I don’t acknowledge regularly. She reminded me of how many mistakes people make, how much people despise even themselves at times, and how none of this needs to be dramatized by a catastrophic plot but simply by revealing the true nature of how people assess their own lives.
The book also offered an alternative perspective to the first person teenage girl through the view of an adult Lee Fiora. More more depth and meaning was added to what might have been considered insignificant teenage feelings. I was able to see how these decisions shaped her as a person, not just as a fictional character whose story was being told in a linear timeline.
This isn’t an easy book to read, it’s long and it certainly isn’t suspenseful or a page turner, but if you are looking for a book with insight and relateable themes that aren’t romanticized, I would highly suggest this one.