W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Moi, Toi, et VoI: Book Review: Prep

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Book Review: Prep

I finally finished reading Prep. I say finally because I was itching to be done with this book, throw it against a wall and have a stiff drink.

In all fairness it was well written, original and honest. The Unwritten Rules of Prep School were definitely on point - the stuff about money, about getting into fancy colleges, about loyalty to The Idea of your school. I didn't go to a boarding school, but a Jesuit 'College Prep' in downtown Chicago. It had been a boys' school for 100 years before allowing girls in about six years before I started there, so it still had a lot of that old school tradition shtick. One of my personal favorite ancient institutions at SICP was the JUG. You didn't get a detention, you got a JUG, or Judgment Under God. JUG was also used as a verb, as in 'You're jugged.' JUG consisted of copying the Code of Conduct out of the school handbook for 2 hours after school. Come on, how great is that?! It's a rite of passage!

But Lee. Ugh. I found Lee just about the most annoying unenjoyable character I've read in a while. I found her incessant self-consciousness excrutiating. I know, I know, that's the way that teenage girls think. I get it. I guess I just don't want to be in a teenage girl's head anymore. Dare I say I liked Charlotte Simmons better? The plot was more interesting, but it was basically the same story. But Tom Wolfe made it sexier and more colorful.

Thinking back to my high school days, I wasn't a whole lot like Lee. I was one of those alternachicks who wore Doc Martens and necklaces made of safety pins and listened to The Smiths and Ministry incessantly. One of my fondest memories of high school is dumping our prom dates afterwards, and my girlfriends and I dropping acid and roaming around the city at 4 am.

I guess you could say I was a little wild.*

Maybe the reason why Lee bugs me so much is because I'm currently battling my own Mousy Girl on the End Pew Syndrome. In high school, I knew everything. And I was totally self-confident because I knew I knew everything. Now, enh, not so much. And putting myself on the line like I am with this business lately has really been quite a challenge to my ego. It's quite nerve racking to be in the spotlight like this, with people expecting so much. It's fucking scary, it is.

*The extent of my getting in trouble was getting JUGs for talking during Mass, not wearing socks and wearing colored jeans (I realize I'm dating myself here!). I never got caught smoking pot before school or ditching French with Ms. Lodl. Those infractions would have necessitated a heavier punishment than JUGs, but because I did well in school and was only a minimally rebellious teenage girl on the outside, I always slipped under the radar screen. But I went on to a fine university and ended up perfectly normal and not a delinquent. I cherish memories of being harmlessly naughty back then. It saved me from doing really stupid stuff in college.


Anonymous Daximus said...

It's really true, the protaganist in Prep is not exactly likable - I found myself so annoyed at her at times! But she was real, that is for sure. Having gone to a private school myself (also a day school like you, not a boarding school), I found many of the rituals so familiar (we had a terrible one called "kissing elves" around the holiday season where all the hotties would sign up to be "elves" and for $1 you could send them to someone to deliver a holiday card delivered with a kiss which usually ended up as a make-out session in the hallway. I can't believe the school sanctioned this!)

I have your hard copy of Charolette Simmons which I need to return, because it was too large for me to read in bed. But I just went out and bought the paperback which is much easier to handle. I am excited to give it another try in a more manageable form and discuss with you!

4/09/2006 2:41 PM  
Anonymous daximus said...

Oops - I mean Charlotte Simmons. My spelling is horrendous.

4/09/2006 2:54 PM  
Blogger Red said...

That's funny, I just picked up Prep yesterday and am about 20 pages into it. I thought I'd love it, but I'm a little afraid that Lee will end up being too weird to be relatable... but I have faith. I didn't read your entry in case there were spoilers... but I'll come back to it once I finish (or once I throw it against the wall, whichever comes first)!

4/09/2006 4:50 PM  
Anonymous shiksa goddess said...

this book was painful. I read it for a book club about a year ago. I agree with you that Lee was someone you just totally hate. she just let that people totally use her. I never went to a prep school either but I have to say that there were some parts about her parents in there that made some sense.

4/09/2006 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Whinger said...

I freaking HATED this book, found Lee to be one of the most annoying characters of all time, and was writhing in pain for her throughout.

Regardless, I could not stop reading.

Hate that.

4/10/2006 12:18 PM  
Blogger Oy Vey said...

i'm glad to know that other people found her as irritating as i did.

i have to admit i find it annoying when people start confusing the author's intent with generally crappy writing. sittenfield is a decent writer, but really, i just have no desire to know lee whatsoever.

now if you want to read another page turner with a character you'll love to hate/hate to love, read We Need to Talk About Kevin. (And no, i don't own stock in that book.)

4/10/2006 12:39 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home