Star Wars Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN!

Weekly drawing for $100 credit. Subscribe to for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

More at Powell's

Recently Viewed clear list

Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lisa Howorth: IMG So Many Books, So Many Writers

I'm not a bookseller, but I'm married to one, and Square Books is a family. And we all know about families and how hard it is to disassociate... Continue »
  1. $18.20 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Flying Shoes

    Lisa Howorth 9781620403013

Qualifying orders ship free.
List price: $16.00
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Local Warehouse Literature- A to Z

Prep: A Novel


Prep: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780812972351
ISBN10: 081297235x
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

Only 1 left in stock at $5.50!



Reading Group Guide

1. How does Prep differ from other books about teenagers youve read?

Reviews have cited the book as an unsentimental view of high

school and adolescence—do you agree? How does Lee Fioras point

of view relate to your own high school experience?

2. Throughout the novel, Lee describes herself as an outsider, partly

because of her scholarship-student status. How does Sittenfeld develop

this theme of fitting in racially and financially? What kind

of difficulties, both overt and subtle, do Little, Sin-Jun, Darden, and

other minority students encounter at Ault, and how does their outsider

status differ from Lees?

3. How does the school-wide game of Assassin temporarily transform

Lee? How do her interactions with her classmates during this game

empower her? Explore her guilt in “killing” McGrath.

4. Many readers and reviewers of Prep have described Lee as a passive

character. When is Lee submissive, and when does she act on her

desires, even if subconsciously? Does her level of assertion change

by the end of the novel?

5. Lee experiences friction with her parents when they visit Ault for

Parents Weekend. How has her relationship with them changed

since she left for boarding school? Her father states, “When you

started at Ault . . . I said to myself, Ill bet there are a lot of kids

whod think real highly of themselves going to a place like that.

And I thought, but Im glad Lee has a good head on her shoulders.

Well, I was wrong. Ill say that now. We made a mistake to let you

go” (202). Do you think Lee has changed in the way her father

claims she has?

6. Many reviewers have mentioned that Prep feels autobiographical

and reads like a memoir, but Sittenfeld denies that her novel

closely follows her life. Why, then, do you think Prep comes across

as so authentic and personal?

7. Is Angela Varizi, The New York Times reporter who interviews Lee,

manipulative in her interview? Do you think Lee intended, even if

subconsciously, to give a negative picture of Ault?

8. During Lees final conversation with Cross Sugarman, he tells her,

“Youll be happier in college. . . . I think its good youre going to a

big school, somewhere less conformist than Ault” (380). Why does

Cross think this, and do you agree with him? How do you envision

Lee changing after high school?

9. Reviewers have compared Sittenfeld to other authors in the boardingschool-

novel genre, including J. D. Salinger, John Knowles, and

Tobias Wolff. How does Prep differ from those other novels? How

does a female perspective affect Prep?

10. How does Lees adolescence compare to your own? Which of her

high school experiences resonate with you most?

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

ariana16, December 4, 2008 (view all comments by ariana16)
This book was very interesting and I never understood why she kept hope for Cross through all those years. In the end I knew it would turn out like it did. I think she kind of put it on herself.But it was a book that I had to finish so it was pretty good.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(13 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)
alihay, March 8, 2008 (view all comments by alihay)
Compulsively readable. A clear and insightful look into the world of a teenager looking for her place in an unfamiliar world. Great book club choice.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(8 of 18 readers found this comment helpful)
troykoff8, June 6, 2006 (view all comments by troykoff8)
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(18 of 50 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

Sittenfeld, Curtis
Random House Trade
Howe, Katherine
Teenage girls
Preparatory school students
Psychological fiction
General Fiction
Literature-A to Z
School & Education
fiction;boarding school;coming of age;high school;novel;prep school;adolescence;young adult;chick lit;new england;relationships;teen;ya;teenagers;bildungsroman;contemporary fiction;boarding schools;contemporary;angst;friendship;private school;american;mas
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
November 22, 2005
Grade Level:
from 7
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 12

Other books you might like

  1. I Am Charlotte Simmons: A Novel
    Used Trade Paper $0.95
  2. Little Children
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  3. Election
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  4. Manstealing for Fat Girls Used Trade Paper $4.95
  5. Please Don't Kill the Freshman: A Memoir
    Used Trade Paper $3.95
  6. The Ivy Chronicles Used Trade Paper $5.95

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Prep: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Random House Trade - English 9780812972351 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

"The best thing about this novel, and there are many very good things, is its strikingly intelligent voice. Sittenfeld nails the neurosis of adolescence with an unusual and appropriate tone....Sittenfeld's depiction of complex relationships is welcome; her characters are nuanced, pathetic, hilarious, and, above all, genuine. Prep is an extremely talented debut from a writer to keep an eye on — for her sense of humor and empathy as well as her sociological critique."

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A self-conscious outsider navigates the choppy waters of adolescence and a posh boarding school's social politics in Sittenfeld's A-grade coming-of-age debut. The strong narrative voice belongs to Lee Fiora, who leaves South Bend, Ind., for Boston's prestigious Ault School and finds her sense of identity supremely challenged. Now, at 24, she recounts her years learning 'everything I needed to know about attracting and alienating people.' Sittenfeld neither indulges nor mocks teen angst, but hits it spot on: 'I was terrified of unwittingly leaving behind a piece of scrap paper on which were written all my private desires and humiliations. The fact that no such scrap of paper existed... never decreased my fear.' Lee sees herself as 'one of the mild, boring, peripheral girls' among her privileged classmates, especially the uber-popular Aspeth Montgomery, 'the kind of girl about whom rock songs were written,' and Cross Sugarman, the boy who can devastate with one look ('my life since then has been spent in pursuit of that look'). Her reminiscences, still youthful but more wise, allow her to validate her feelings of loneliness and misery while forgiving herself for her lack of experience and knowledge. The book meanders on its way, light on plot but saturated with heartbreaking humor and written in clean prose. Sittenfeld, who won Seventeen's fiction contest at 16, proves herself a natural in this poignant, truthful book. Agent, Shana Kelly. (Jan. 18)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Prep's plot is no great shakes — crushes crush, tests test, sex happens. The compelling struggle is surprisingly not between Lee and her wealthy classmates so much as it is between the inner Lee, who writes with subtlety and compassion, and the Lee who wants to fit in with those classmates." (read the entire Boldtype review)
"Review" by , "The boarding-school formula allows newcomer Sittenfeld the comforting slippers-and-ice-cream haven of chick-lit while allowing much more in the way of psychological insight. Teenaged years served up without sugar: a class act."
"Review" by , "[S]imply too predictable. Saving the book from formula, however, are some fine writing and assorted shrewd insights into both the psychology of adolescence and the privileged world of a traditional prep school."
"Review" by , "What is of interest, and why Prep deserves pride of place on any summer recommended reading list, is the incisive and evenhanded way in which Sittenfeld explores issues of class."
"Review" by , "Sittenfeld's writing is wonderfully descriptive...her talent is evident in the smooth pacing and well-developed characters....[A] gorgeous and charming debut that belongs with the fine coming-of-age stories of our time."
"Review" by , "To interest adult readers, a novel like this needs something special: Holden Caulfield's voice, say, or the literary flair of Tobias Wolff's Old School. Here, events add up to little more than a familiar picture."
"Review" by , "If you're a parent and you want to get insight into the world of your average mopey teen, Prep is a good place to start....Sittenfeld captures the universal conundrums of teen life with a delicate pen."
"Review" by , "Gripping debut us a more accurate picture of adolescence as an unlovely mix of utter cluelessness, extreme sensitivity and untempered drives."
"Review" by , "Sittenfeld creates a world so authentic, so geographically and psychologically precise, that readers won't be able to turn away."
"Review" by , "Prep is no Catcher In the Rye, and its no Holden Caulfield. Such comparisons are unfair to Sittenfeld, who shows considerable promise but has a way to go before reaching the status of American literary icon."
"Review" by , "Curtis Sittenfeld is a young writer with a crazy amount of talent. Her sharp and economical prose reminds us of Joan Didion and Tobias Wolff. Like them, she has a sly and potent wit, which cuts unexpectedly — but often — through the placid surface of her prose. Her voice is strong and clear, her moral compass steady; I?d believe anything she told me."
"Review" by , "Funny, excruciatingly honest, improbably sexy, and studded with hard-won, eccentric wisdom about high school, heartbreak, and social privilege. One of the most impressive debut novels in recent memory."
"Review" by , "In her deeply involving first novel, Curtis Sittenfeld invites us inside the fearsome echo chamber of adolescent self-consciousness. But Prep is more than a coming of age story — it's a study of social class in America, and Sittenfeld renders it with astonishing deftness and clarity."
"Review" by , "Speaking in a voice as authentic as Salinger's Holden Caulfield and McCullers' Mick Kelly, Curtis Sittenfeld's Lee Fiora tells unsugared truths about adolescence, alienation, and the sociology of privilege. Prep's every sentence rings true. Sittenfeld is a rising star."
"Review" by , "Sittenfeld ensconces the reader deep in the world of the Ault School and the churning mind of Lee Fiora (a teenager as complex and nuanced as those of Salinger), capturing every vicissitude of her life with the precision of a brilliant documentary and the delicacy and strength of a poem."
"Review" by , "Prep does something considerable in the realm of discussing class in American culture. The ethnography on adolescence is done in pitch-perfect detail. Stunning and lucid."
"Review" by , "Open Prep and you'll travel back in time: Sittenfeld's novel is funny, smart, poignant, and tightly woven together, with a very appealing sense of melancholy."
"Synopsis" by , A perceptive, achingly funny first novel featuring a middle-class Midwestern teenager trying to fit in at an elite East Coast boarding school, Prep is also a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition.
"Synopsis" by ,
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The Crucible.


Its senior year at St. Joans Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they cant.


First its the schools queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joans buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.


Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—whos been reading The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago . . .


Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, whats really happening to the girls at St. Joans?

"Synopsis" by , Curtis Sittenfelds debut novel, Prep, is an insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition.

Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding schools glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristinely mown athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel.

As Lee soon learns, Ault is a cloistered world of jaded, attractive teenagers who spend summers on Nantucket and speak in their own clever shorthand. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of-and, ultimately, a participant in-their rituals and mores. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider and is both drawn to and repelled by other loners. By the time shes a senior, Lee has created a hard-won place for herself at Ault. But when her behavior takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her carefully crafted identity within the community is shattered.

Ultimately, Lees experiences-complicated relationships with teachers; intense friendships with other girls; an all-consuming preoccupation with a classmate who is less than a boyfriend and more than a crush; conflicts with her parents, from whom Lee feels increasingly distant, coalesce into a singular portrait of the painful and thrilling adolescence universal to us all.

From the Hardcover edition.

  • back to top
Follow us on...

Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at