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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions


1. How does Prep differ from other books about teenagers you've read? Reviews have cited the book as an unsentimental view of high school and adolescence --- do you agree? How does Lee Fiora's 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 Lee's?

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, I'll bet there are a lot of kids who'd think real highly of themselves going to a place like that. And I thought, but I'm glad Lee has a good head on her shoulders. Well, I was wrong. I'll 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 Lee's final conversation with Cross Sugarman, he tells her, "You'll be happier in college. . . . I think it's good you're 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 Lee's adolescence compare to your own? Which of her high school experiences resonate with you most?

by Curtis Sittenfeld

  • Publication Date: November 22, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 081297235X
  • ISBN-13: 9780812972351