100 in ’11: Sittenfeld, Shreve and Kumar

Testimony – Anita Shreve

Summary: A night of drunken debauchery caught on video has devastating consequences for a boarding school, and not just for the students involved.

Enjoyable, well-paced, the storyline unfolds nicely. It’s told from several different characters’ viewpoints, and while the differing timelines were a little jarring, they were not too difficult to follow. It’s a scary reminder of how one small choice can affect so many people, and how the consequences of actions can snowball far beyond any you could initially have imagined for even the smartest and brightest of kids. Much like We Need To Talk About Kevin, it might make you think twice about parenting.

Prep – Curtis Sittenfeld

Summary: Working-class Midwestern girl has to fight to survive four years in a New England prep school where she stands out like dog’s balls.

Another boarding school book, but in an entirely different vein. I have to admit, I’ve forgotten so much about high school life, but Sittenfeld captures the overthinking and the angst perfectly. Yet it also feels somewhat hollow. I understand this was essentially a slice of life – a window into Lee’s world, one which she is ambiguous about – but it’s a little frustrating coming away and seeing that she still hadn’t found happiness despite her journey of self-discovery.

Imported Bride – Ranjula Kumar

Summary: Naive Fijian bride arrives in New Zealand, only to find life taking her in a different direction than she had expected.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book, looking forward to getting stuck in and getting an insight into life as a fresh immigrant in an arranged marriage. Threads involving her distant and cold father, her failed first love and various childhood incidents added interesting diversions. Disappointingly, the writing was not particularly sophisticated, was poorly edited and its characters failed to grip (in fact, they were rather one-dimensional. Or two-dimensional, as Bones would correct me.)


4 thoughts on “100 in ’11: Sittenfeld, Shreve and Kumar

  • Reply Sense July 9, 2011 at 01:31

    Oh dear God, when Prep came out, I dog-ear’d so many pages of my copy! Even at 27, I could relate my adolescence and beyond to all of it so much, even though I was far from a prep school kid. I adore that book, and Lee. The self-created loneliness!

    Have you read the Perks of Being a Wallflower? i can’t remember. It is along the same coming-of-age vein but ends slightly more optimistically for the protagonist. I also love this book. I’m a big YA fan, if you can’t tell. 🙂

  • Reply Clare - Never Niche July 9, 2011 at 19:51

    I read Prep earlier this year and completely agree! I recommend his other novel, American Wife (loosely based on Laura Bush), a lot more. It’s just as well written but actually GOES somewhere.

  • Reply Rachel September 7, 2011 at 03:21

    I’m reading all your posts tagged as “books” because I need recs on what to read I HATED Prep. I wanted to like Lee, I really did, because I related to some of her overthinking/angst, but something about the character just rubbed me the wrong way.

  • Reply Prep Schools September 14, 2011 at 15:25

    […] = ''; } New England Prep School Lacrosse – Video100 in ’11: Sittenfeld, Shreve and Kumar window.google_analytics_uacct = […]

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