Your friends are five minutes late to pick you up to go to a party and each second seems to drip by in agony and longing. Your eyes constantly search for the girl you would move mountains for, even though she barely knows you exist or, at the very least, is too preoccupied with much older boys.
Curtis Sittenfield, in her debut novel Prep, is a master at articulating, with such precision (and how difficult it must have been to remember so many details about adolescence?), the way we were growing up. Towards the end, a couple of lines sum up what the book is about:
"I've never paid as close attention to my life or anyone else's as I did then. I remember myself as often unhappy at Ault, and yet my unhappiness was so alert and expectant; really, it was, in its energy, not that different from happiness."
Lee mostly stands in the background during her four years at the school, observing others and mostly bouncing idea after idea and thought after thought around in her own very unsure, unformed mind. In that sense, it's a true coming-of-age story, reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye or Ethan Canin's novels, but with an even sharper microscope.
****1/2 out of ***** stars
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