I have been listening to Prep on audio book for a few weeks now, I had gotten it when I had to drive down to a family reunion, but the round trip wasn't long enough to finish it (it was an almost 18 hour recording) so it took me a while to get through it. I had some very strong reactions to it, but first, the summary.
Lee Fiora leaves her small town in Indiana for boarding school in New England at the prestigious Ault School. The book follows all four years of Lee's time at Ault, her struggles to feel a part of the school, attempts to be one of them, the conflicts with her family. It's a little hard to summarize, actually, as there wasn't one main plot. It was just her four years at the school and the things that happened to her.
OK, so, strong reactions. I don't think I have read another book, either YA or adult where they was such a horribly, brutally honest portrayal of a character. Lee was such an incredibly honest character that it almost hurt to read (or listen to in this case). She was insecure and passive and jealous and angry and sad and longing and it was just so amazingly human I didn't even know what to do. I kind of hated her. Like if I met this person in actual life I would not have liked her at all. Her passivity would have driven me crazy. Her unwillingness to do anything. Her petty jealously when good things happened to other people. Her longing for things that were unattainable. As a teacher I wanted to find this kid and try to help her. And I think part of why it was so uncomfortable to hear about is that it was so true and I could see parts of myself in her reactions or feelings and it was upsetting. It was just...I don't know. We like our characters to be flawed slightly but still brave and heroic and sacrificing, even when we're reading realistic fiction. But Lee was just a person, and it was hard to look at her.
So, I would definitely recommend Prep, but I'm not sure I would recommend listening to the audio book. There was only one reader, since the whole thing is in Lee's voice, and the reading was very flat and emotionless, which fits well with the character but hardly makes good listening. I think this would have been better had I read it myself. But would I have reacted as strongly if I had read it rather than listening to it? I don't know. Maybe at some point I'll read it and see how I feel. But if you hadn't read Prep, I would recommend reading it or listening to it. It's really something.
Another thing I want to mention, just because I found it funny, was the names the kids at the boarding school had. Ridiculous names. The popular girls where names Aspeth and Horton. Horton. The boy Lee has a crush on for all four years is named Cross Sugarman. The ideas of private school kid's names was hysterical, but then, I've come across some names at the private school I'm at that I couldn't have dreamed of.
I think there some other things I was thinking of when I was listening to it, but I didn't write it down and now I've forgotten. Everything else I think about it really has been blown away in the amazement over the main character anyway.