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Pickle Me This

April 19, 2006

Prep Afterwords

I read Prep, in a day and a bit because times a wasting. It’s not chick lit. But it’s not really lit either. If anything, it’s really boring and goes on for 400 pages as such. I guess if one has literary aspirations, I would encourage them not to write from a fourteen year old’s point of view. Because otherwise, they feel the need to overcompensate by having the narrator’s adult-self confusingly just start to commentate out of the blue, or have much of the story take place in English classes so several literary themes could be checked. I thought maybe it was just me, because I’m not a fan of YA fiction anymore, but according to amazon reviews, the kids don’t like Prep much either. Perhaps Prep’s biggest letdown was the inconsistency of the narrative voice; was she an adult reflecting on her youth, was she an unreliable narrator who thought she knew it all, was she a young wise cracking Holden Caulfield, was she wise beyond her years? I felt like perhaps SIttenfeld wasn’t sure, because Lee Fiora was a bit of all of that, which was a bit confusing. Also, there was no plot. Things happen, but not for motivating purposes. I sort of wanted her to drop out after sophomore year, just so the book would be over. There was no revelation at the end. And I didn’t come away from the book having learned anything new. Perhaps it’s because it’s centred on high school students- I don’t actually consider high school that defining. It’s formative, but in high school everybody is sort of an idiot, everybody is melodramatic. Its what happens next that really matters. There were some wonderful bits in Prep. Some of the writing was really excellent, but got lost on the density of the text. Lee’s relationship with her parents was poignantly illustrated, and really heartbreaking at times. I was intrigued by some of the stories of the adult secondary characters in Prep, who were more interesting than the teenagers, I thought. And some of the themes were fascinating but there were just too many of them. And perhaps my assessment of Sittenfeld’s book is a bit harsh, but her review of Melissa Bank’s book was so incredibly scathing, and having read Prep I’m not sure exactly where Sittenfeld got off doing that.

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