Ok... well, firstly I don't think it was as cracked up to be as the critic in the Independent on Sunday thought when they declared "Sweet Valley High as written by George Eliot". That said, it was completely enjoyable and I happily read the entire novel in one sitting. Basically, Prep is about about a female teenager who wins a scholarship to an elite boarding school in Massachusetts - it chronicles her struggle to self-efface her small-town upbringing and find her place within the prep school's social machine.
- The silliness of the aspirational middle class.
- The honest portrayal of the fixation on 'brand name' colleges - Ivies - in the US and the application rat race.
- A central character who is flawed, aspirational, deeply insecure, not particularly likeable but instantly recognizable.
- The smart way in which common themes such as popularity and the Need To Be Liked, parent/child relationships and coming of age are dealt with.
- The sloppy, anti-climatic ending. The opening chapters were so entertaining and promised much more than the final pages delivered...
I guess I also saw a certain amount of myself in the protagonist. I was a small town girl who won a scholarship to a private city school for my final two years of high school. I could relate to the wangst about fitting in and being liked, the student body which was made up of beautiful people, jocks, not-particularly-smart boys who were simply the offspring of old scholars and nerds, the pressure of university entrance, the aspiration etc.
Anyway, I'd be interested to know what other people think of this book... I do recommend it.