**spoiler alert** File this one under "showed promise."
Baxter's anticipated follow-up to the highly acclaimed The Feast of Love started off well enoug...more**spoiler alert** File this one under "showed promise."
Baxter's anticipated follow-up to the highly acclaimed The Feast of Love started off well enough, I suppose. Nathaniel Mason, narrating awkwardly in the 3rd person, is a graduate student in upstate New York and on his way to one of the smarmiest parties ever put to ink. It's there, amongst the hipsters and faux Marxists, where he first meets Jerome Coolberg,"The Soul Thief." Coolberg is purported to be some sort of genius, however Nathaniel is quick to note that nearly everything spewing from his mouth is stolen material.
Though he first seems harmless enough, it doesn't take Nathaniel long to realize something about Coolberg is a bit...off. Still, Nathaniel can't seem to help from forming an uneasy friendship with Coolberg, and that's when things take turn for the creepy. Nathaniel's apartment is burgled, his clothes go missing, and Coolberg somehow seems know very personal things about Nathaniel - things Nathaniel doesn't recall ever sharing with him. The issue is forced to its crisis when he catches word that Coolberg has taken to passing Nathaniel's history off as his own. His excuse? He's writing a book, and Nathaniel's a major source of inspiration. From here the story takes several twists, the biggest one being, of course, the ending. Which was awful.
As I stated earlier, this novel certainly had potential. Annoying opening party scene aside, the first act read like Hitchcock at his best - full of ominously mysterious characters with undefined motives. In fact, the book even begins with a reference to Psycho, a reference the reader will later recognize as a major clue. And even though I *loves* me some Hitchcock, I most certainly didn't love this novel.
Why? As the plot unfolded I was bothered by several things, but I could have looked past the pedantic dialogue and unlikeable characters had the ending delivered better. And when it comes down to it, it's the ending that ruined The Soul Thief for me. I'll be vague for the sake of anyone who may still want to give it a shot, but after all the allusions dropped throughout, I was geared up for the ending to be as classy and smart as a Hitchcock film, when instead it felt cheap and gimmicky. Baxter my man, you could have done so much better.
I have no doubt that Charles Baxter is a great writer, however I'm not sure one would be able to discern that on this strength of this novel alone. Hardcore Baxter fans will probably still want to check it out, but for everyone else...maybe don't bother. It wasn't the worst way to spend a few hours, but it was hardly the best.
Overall, I found A Confederacy of Dunces to be a very enjoyable read. Perhaps it dragged in spots, but it was, all things considered,...moreHere's a quickie:
Overall, I found A Confederacy of Dunces to be a very enjoyable read. Perhaps it dragged in spots, but it was, all things considered, a fantastic comic farce, and I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it. As much as the protagonist begged to be hated, I found that I couldn't, and I enjoyed spending time in his wacko world almost as much as I was thankful that he didn't really exist in my actual life. Did it deserve the Pulitzer? Hard to say. However, and despite its challenges, reading it was a worthwhile experience, and one I would certainly recommend.(less)
Last week I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I was supposed to have spent my summer tracking down supplementary readings for a unit on media manipul...moreLast week I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I was supposed to have spent my summer tracking down supplementary readings for a unit on media manipulation, but as of two days before my due date I hadn't found one single thing. Honestly, I hadn't even bothered to try. In short, I was screwed. Fortunately, a friend came to my rescue by suggesting In Persuasion Nation, a collection of short stories by George Saunders, and it proved perfect for my needs. (And thank God I can read a book in a day. Way to cut things close, me.) I wasn't planning on reviewing this book since I read it for work, however I really enjoyed it, and so what the heck - we're mixing work with pleasure over here today.
The cover of In Persuasion Nation depicts a man leaning over to sniff the solitary flower standing in the center of a wasteland - an appropriate image for a collection of stories whose protagonists are often searching for something real, pure and true in a plastic world that values consumerism over humanity. Often humorous, rather quirky and usually disturbing, Saunders' stories serve as a sort of protest of our corporate culture, warning what we very well may one day become if we choose to continue on our current path. The heroes in these stories are the misfits of this modern world. There's Brad, whose life is a sitcom which he is in danger of being written off of once he finds he can no longer continue smiling along with the laugh track, ignoring the world's ills. In the title story, an army of frustrated characters from smug television commercials rise up and refuse to continue being humiliated while hawking Ding-Dongs, Mac and Cheese and Doritos. And, in what I thought was the best story of the lot, there's Jon, an orphan who's spent nearly his entire life as a member of a product focus group, knowing no other way of communicating his feelings but through advertisements.
While some of these stories succeed better than others, the overall collection proves timely, affecting, inventive and highly entertaining. Like the best satirists, Saunders is thought-provoking, but with heart. Fans of Vonnegut and Pynchon should approve.(less)
"God said, 'Let Tesla be,' and all was light." - B. A. Behrend
Nikola Tesla is arguably one of the most important inventors to have ever lived, yet one...more"God said, 'Let Tesla be,' and all was light." - B. A. Behrend
Nikola Tesla is arguably one of the most important inventors to have ever lived, yet one of the most unsung. To him, we can credit the efficient alternating electrical current system, the remote control, and the radio (although Marconi stole the patent for that last one). He harnessed Niagara Falls' energy potential, is credited with giving birth to robotics, and his "Tesla Coil" gave us neon and fluorescent lighting and x-ray photography. Wildly imaginative, Tesla was also rumored to have experimented with wireless energy transmission, extraterrestrial communication, invisibility, antigravity, time travel, and a "Death Beam" which, as a life-long pacifist, he hoped would make war impossible due to its fearful capability of mass destruction. But thanks to a far better sense of imagination than a head for business, Tesla died penniless, living alone but for his pigeons in the Hotel New Yorker, his legacy largely obscured.
Needless to say, Samantha Hunt - who spent four years researching the life and work of Nikola Tesla, weaving this meticulous research into her sophomore novel - already had some fascinating source material at her disposal.
The Invention of Everything Else blends fact with fiction so well that it often becomes difficult to discern between the two. Taking a non-linear approach to storytelling, Hunt bounces around through Tesla's biography, revealing his life through stories of his childhood up to the story of his death; however, the bulk of the novel focuses on Tesla's final days in the Hotel New Yorker and his brief encounters with the fictional Louisa, a curious chambermaid who - fascinated by the myriad curiosities she uncovers in his hotel room and encouraged by a shared affinity for pigeons - is determined to befriend the reclusive scientist. Hunt's novel is a history lesson wrapped in a pretty story, and the extent to which you are interested in Tesla, science, and history is probably the extent to which you will enjoy The Invention of Everything Else. Seeing how I am fascinated with all of these things, I firmly loved it.(less)
On May 19th, 1845, British bombships Erebus and Terror set sail from the Thames River stocked will three years worth of food, 126 men, and the mission...moreOn May 19th, 1845, British bombships Erebus and Terror set sail from the Thames River stocked will three years worth of food, 126 men, and the mission of seeking out the elusive Northwest Passage. Being that they are traveling on the first steam-powered vessels ever to explore the icy Arctic waters, the men think they have every reason to be confident, but by 1848 all passengers were presumed dead and neither ship was ever seen again. Unsuccessful expeditions charged with finding the missing ships produced clues as to how the men may have met their end, but to this day the individual fates of the men of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror are at best a speculation.
Dan Simmons blends what little is known of this doomed Arctic excursion into The Terror - a fictionalized account of Sir John Franklin's final voyage. Simmons' story opens on Francis Crozier, Captain of the HMS Terror, who has been landlocked in a frozen landscape for the better part of a year thanks to Franklin's poor decision making. Beset by ice, Crozier and his fellow captains had hoped for a summertime thaw that never came, and so are in the middle of their second winter spent trapped on their quickly failing ships. As if things were not bad enough, their dwindling food supply is feared to be contaminated by poisonous lead, several restless sailors are in danger of becoming mutinous, and they are being slowly stalked by a supernatural polar bear-ish monster that is methodically hunting and eating the crew. One-by-one, the men of Erebus and Terror begin to meet their terrible ends - victims of either the elements, their poisonous rations, or the strange monster that seems able to appear and disappear from the ice as if by magic. It eventually falls on Crozier to led these men off their ships and into the barren landscape, desperate for a chance at a salvation that seems impossible.
With Halloween just around the bend, my craving for a scary book led me to The Terror, despite approaching it with some hesitancy due to the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of historical fiction, frankly couldn't care less about nautical journeys, and - weighing in at a whopping 771 pages - The Terror looked like a beastly tome requiring the sort of time I wasn't really sure I was willing to commit. But it quickly became clear that the time it would take to tackle The Terror would be time well spent, as I quickly found myself drawn into the world of Crozier and his men.
Ultimately, The Terror reads like two separate novels - one a nautical disaster and the other a supernatural thriller -and while I can understand why some would see this as a point of critique, it totally worked for me. I loved the supernatural element every bit as much as I loved reading about the trials and tribulations of the doomed exhibition. For me, the presence of the monster really elevated a misadventure story into something much more imaginative and unique, and although it didn't terrify me exactly, it certainly provided me with a fair share of moments that made my hair stand on end.
All and all, I've never read anything quite like The Terror. It's a tale of survival, of adventure, of horror and of Inuit mythology, and it's also an immensely satisfying read. I can't recommend it enough. (less)
Clay Jensen comes home from school to discover a mysterious package, addressed to him and anonymously left on his front porch. His excitement turns in...moreClay Jensen comes home from school to discover a mysterious package, addressed to him and anonymously left on his front porch. His excitement turns into curiosity when he opens the box to discover it full of cassette tapes, each side numbered from one to thirteen in dark blue nail polish. But after popping the first tape into an old cassette player, Clay's excited curiosity quickly turns to sick dread as the voice he hears on the tape is that of Hannah Baker - a girl who was his classmate, his crush, and who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah's unexplained death rocked her community, hitting sweet and sensitive Clay particularly hard. It was widely assumed she left no explanation behind for why she chose to end her life, however the voice Clay hears speaking through the tape indicates that this is not so. Hannah has thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life, each explained in full in the tapes that have fallen into Clay's possession. Apparently, Clay is one of those reasons, and in order to discover why he must listen to Hannah's tapes, regardless of how difficult a job it may prove to be.
What first struck me about Jay Asher's novel is how much young adult fiction has changed since I was a kid. My clearest memories of the genre include books like Judy Blume's Blubber - novels that taught strong lessons about bullying and the importance of empathy. In another era, pushing the envelope meant writing about teenage sex (Forever), drug use (Go Ask Alice), or eating disorders (The Girl in the Mirror). But while these topics were once considered shocking and sometimes taboo, this is clearly no longer the case. Sex and drinking are now accepted elements of the genre, so it takes much weightier issues such as suicide, child prostitution and murder to shock us. At times, I find this depressing. And yet, I can’t help but see it as a natural sort of evolution. I don't think Asher set out to shock readers with Thirteen Reasons Why, rather he saw a story that begged to be told; one that, unfortunately, hits many young people in a very real way.
What struck me next was a feeling of intense inferiority. Here I am, struggling to pen my own young adult novel, when I pause to read Asher’s debut - his clever, strong-voiced, well-crafted, suspenseful debut. Part of me wanted to hate this book, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because it filled me with such strong feelings of jealousy. Thirteen Reasons Why is a wonderful novel, and Jay Asher is a talented storyteller. It speaks to adults as well as it speaks to kids, and I know this because once I cracked it, I couldn’t put the little bugger down. Listening to Hannah tell the posthumous story of her downward spiral and ultimate decision to give up is as thought-provoking as it is absorbing, and her voice rings clear and feels tragically real.
Overall, Thirteen Reasons Why is about the importance of listening, both to what is said as well as to the clues that go unspoken. Like much of today’s serious young adult fiction, it’s a sobering read, but it’s also a terrific book. I just wish I had come up with the idea first...(less)
Pessl's debut seems to have met a steady stream of both critical acclaim and general annoyance following its 2006 release. Well aware of the opinions...morePessl's debut seems to have met a steady stream of both critical acclaim and general annoyance following its 2006 release. Well aware of the opinions of both camps, I tried to approach Special Topics... with an open mind, and I found myself wavering between loving it and wanting to hurl it across the room. The novel - at least in terms of length - is epic, but although the plot meanders considerably, it's essentially a murder mystery wrapped in coming-of-age drama. Blue van Meer has spent her formative years bouncing around the country with her brilliant and pedantic father who seems hell-bent on creating a child who is every bit as brilliant and pedantic as himself. Although they rarely stay in one city for longer than a college semester, Dr. van Meer finally gives in to his daughter's desire for stability by accepting a teaching position in a sleepy little town in North Carolina and enrolling her in St. Galloway - a ritzy prep school that reeks with pretension. Here, Blue's major plans are to enjoy her senior year and clinch the title of class valedictorian, but when she catches the eye of Hannah Schneider - a mysterious, beautiful teacher who is the beloved leader and mentor of "The Bluebloods" (basically the richest, snottiest kids in school) - drama, intrigue and death are soon to follow.
Again, it's been awhile since I've read something that was as enjoyable as it was frustrating. While the actual story was intriguing enough to keep me reading, I found the writing to be gimmicky and grossly overwritten. I was constantly getting lost in endless strings of smiles, metaphors and parenthetical citations used, presumably, to prove how smart the narrator was (i.e. - a chandelier isn't "gaudy." Rather, it's "a gold, five-tiered chandelier...hung like an upside-down duchess shamelessly exposing to the paying public her ankle boots and froufrou petticoat." Ugh.) But there are moments, especially after the first 150 or so pages, when Pessl seems to forget how witty, dazzling, and innovative she is trying to be and just writes, and these are the moments that keep me reading. Basically, is there considerable talent here? Yes. Would Pessl have benefited from more disciplined editing? Most definitely.(less)
"I was a biography in perpetual motion, memory in the marrow of my bones."
Narrated by Nathan Zuckerman, Philip Roth's oft used alter-ego, American Pas...more"I was a biography in perpetual motion, memory in the marrow of my bones."
Narrated by Nathan Zuckerman, Philip Roth's oft used alter-ego, American Pastoral is the story of Seymour "The Swede" Levov - a man who, on the surface, seems to be a glimmering example of The American Dream. Levov is handsome, athletically gifted, married to a former Miss New Jersey, and lives in a big stone house in the suburbs of Newark, comfortably removed from the crime, decay and racial turmoil consuming his blighted hometown. But when Levov's teenager daughter decides to protest the Vietnam War by setting off a bomb that kills an innocent bystander and sends her into hiding, there so goes "The Swede's" charmed life.
Something nagged at me while I read American Pastoral, a brilliant, Pulitzer Prize-winning story of how the idyllic American Dream turned in the the "American berserk" thanks to the political and social turmoil of the 1960s. It's been a few years, but I recalled feeling something similar while reading Roth's The Human Stain - like I knew I was reading something pretty profound, something beautifully written by an incredibly skilled artist. So, why wasn't I enjoying it more?
Allow me a brief, tangental analogy: I do not like steak. There are people who revere steak above most other things, people who would pay through the nose for a nice filet mignon or a piece of kobe beef. I am not one of those people. I will eat steak if that's what you make me for dinner, however I won't enjoy it nearly as much as I probably should, and would probably have preferred to have been served something else. For me, Philip Roth is like filet mignon: he's a satisfying, high-end, beautiful meal...for someone else.
When it comes down to it, I suppose I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't like American Pastoral very much. It's a highly lauded work by a highly revered author, so to say that I just didn't like it makes me feel like a bit of a dolt - like the uncultured, backwater hick who shows up to the opera in jeans and then falls asleep during the first act. (Yee haw, ya'll!)
And so though I may not have liked it, American Pastoral is a excellent novel by a gifted writer, so perhaps you should just take my thoughts with a generous grain of salt. After all, this is all coming from the lady who'd rather eat mac and cheese than filet mignon.(less)
Set in 19th Century rural Canada, Mary Swan's debut novel tells the haunting story of a an inexplicable murder in a small town and its ripple effects...moreSet in 19th Century rural Canada, Mary Swan's debut novel tells the haunting story of a an inexplicable murder in a small town and its ripple effects on everyone it touches. Reading more like a collection of short stories than a novel, Swan weaves together a series of character sketches to reveal the tragic story of a poor immigrant who - suddenly and for no clear reason -murders his wife and two daughters. Rather than telling the story directly, Swan adopts a variety of points of view: the slain wife, the murdered daughters - one sickly and troubled, the other sweet and kind - a teacher who feels a certain level of responsibility for the events, a small boy who befriended one of the murdered little girls and more, although noticeably absent is the voice of the man whose crime sets the wheels in motion. Each story provides a piece of a puzzle that is never exactly solved, but - at least for me - that seemed to be the point. Who really knows why horrific events happen? The point isn't really the why so much as the effect violence has on both those it is inflicted upon and the ones forced to bear witness.
For some reason I've always been a bit of a sucker for crime dramas, and when they are written in an elegant, artful and psychological manner I'm over the moon. However, I must admit that I didn't choose The Boys in the Trees based on its subject, but rather for a much more superficial reason. I heard absolutely nothing about it, the blurb on the back didn't sound particularly interesting and I had never heard of author Mary Swan, but the cover was so pretty that I simply couldn't resist it. It wasn't perfect - a tad uneven and confusing in spots - but the overall effect made these issues relatively easy for me to overlook. Fortunately, the image on the cover perfectly captured the story inside: nothing particularly groundbreaking, however elegant and poetically beautiful nevertheless. I love it when that happens.(less)
I refuse to spend more time reviewing this book than Palahniuk spent writing it (which couldn't have been very much), so I'll be brief. Snuff takes pl...moreI refuse to spend more time reviewing this book than Palahniuk spent writing it (which couldn't have been very much), so I'll be brief. Snuff takes place entirely in the green room of a porno movie. Cassie Wright is an aging porn star who is trying to set a world record for having sex with 600 dudes in one film, an act that everyone seems to think will kill her. Cassie thinks this too, but that appears to be the whole point. She's hoping that if she dies trying to break the record, then the film will go gangbusters and make a ton of money, money which she will then leave to the child she abandoned eighteen years prior. A whole mess of creepy men answer the casting call to help Cassie make history, and the story is told from the point-of-view of three of those dudes: Mr. 600, a professional porn star and the man who got Cassie started in the business; Mr. 137, a washed-up television star who somehow thinks doing this will resuscitate his failing career; and Mr. 72, who - as messed up as this sounds - believes he is Cassie's son. And if this all sounds like a great big ol' wet, hot mess, then that's because it is.
I'm honestly not really sure what Palahniuk was trying to accomplish with this book. If I were feeling kind, I'd suggest that Snuff was a failed attempt at making some sort of larger critical commentary on the porn industry; however, I'm not feeling kind, so instead I'll suggest that Snuff is the product of a shocking author who has run out of ways to try and shock us. Trouble is, despite the subject matter, it's not particularly shocking at all. Instead, it's lazily written, pointless and boring.
In short, I absolutely hated this book. If it had a face, I would have punched it in it.(less)
As you may or may not recall, I had fairly mixed emotions about Lauren Groff's first novel, The Monsters of Templeton. In a nutshell, I could tell tha...moreAs you may or may not recall, I had fairly mixed emotions about Lauren Groff's first novel, The Monsters of Templeton. In a nutshell, I could tell that she was capable of writing some beautiful stuff, but several elements of the book grated on my nerves and very nearly ruined the experience for me. So, although Groff wasn't really an author I felt too terribly excited about, I'm a sucker for short stories, birds, and impossibly pretty book covers, so I thought I'd give her another chance to wow me. And you know what? This time, I think she did.
The nine stories in this collection are set in wildly different times and locations, but are linked together by motifs of love, sex, violence, crime and, yes - birds. The dichotomy of men and women features heavily, and the female protagonists - many of whom are victimized by the men in their lives - are also strong, accomplished women. In fact, it's the characters Groff creates that makes this such a strong collection. It's a common criticism that short stories are too narrow a space to truly develop a character, but Groff's women are so well formed she makes it look easy, and the stories she builds around them are engrossing, moving, and written with an elegant hand.
In "Lucky Chow Fun" an idyllic small town is rocked with the discovery that its lone Chinese restaurant is actually a front for a brothel operating with young, enslaved Chinese girls. "L.DeBard and Aliette" is the ill-fated love story of Aliette, a girl recovering from polio, and L. DeBard, a former Olympic swimmer turned personal trainer, who fall in love against the background of a devastating flu epidemic raging through the early 20th Century. "Blythe" is a haunting story of two friends, art, and madness, and in the title story, five reporters traveling through France during WWII unwittingly seek shelter in a Nazi home. And although these four stood out as my favorites among the nine, each of the stories delivered.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book is more than just a pretty face and that Groff really is a truly talented writer. I may have traded my copy of The Monsters of Templeton away, but Delicate Edible Birds is a keeper. (And not just because it looks gorgeous on my bedside table.)(less)
The Savage Detectives is one of those titles I couldn't seem to avoid. When it was originally released in 1998 it won a slew of awards...moreWhere to begin?
The Savage Detectives is one of those titles I couldn't seem to avoid. When it was originally released in 1998 it won a slew of awards I had never heard of, and upon the release of its 2007 English language translation it was met with a loads of new praise. The New York Times named it one of the Ten Best Books of 2007, it was featured in the Morning News's Tournament of Books, and the dust cover is littered with glowing reviews from at least ten critics, calling it "brilliant," "important," "a glittering diamond," "magnificent," and Bolaño lauded as a "genius" and "the next Garcia Marquez." Oddly, what the dust jacket does not say is what the book is about.
Turns out there's a very good reason for that, since the book isn't really about anything. (And since it clocks in at a whopping 557 pages, I, for one, found that tremendously annoying.)
To the best I could figure, The Savage Detectives tells the story of a semi-fictitious underground poetic movement native to Mexico and operating in the 1970's called visceral realism, a movement which I wasn't much closer to understanding at the end of the book than I was before I began. The first 120 or so pages focuses on a young college student's discovery of visceral realism and his interactions with the outlaw, oversexed oddballs connected with the movement, but after this first act the novel completely shifts. The remaining 400+ pages are a collection of short interviews with 20-30 people conducted by an unknown interviewer who's attempting to piece together the stories of Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano (modeled after Belaño, I presume) - the founders and leaders of the visceral realists. This section is difficult, occasionally entertaining but more often interminable, and a reader needs a flowchart to keep track of the myriad narrators. Even then there's precious little storyline tying this mess together.
And now I'm left wondering: What did I miss? Did I read the same book as everyone else? Part of me even wonders if the critics who hailed it ever bothered to finish reading the cumbersome, beastly thing, or if they dubbed it brilliant simply because it's so damn difficult to read. Call me crazy, but difficulty need not be the standard to which brilliance is measured. There's often brilliance in simplicity, and while interesting sentences and experimental styles certainly have their place, if you're going to go on for nearly 600 pages, there should at least be a satisfying story to make it worth the reader's while.
(But with that said, there were a heckuva lot of super sexy/borderline obscene parts in the book, in case that does it for you.)(less)
Lee Fiora is an average, middle class girl who feels like she is meant for far greater things than her Indiana hometown. Convincing herself that tradi...moreLee Fiora is an average, middle class girl who feels like she is meant for far greater things than her Indiana hometown. Convincing herself that trading her Midwest family in for a fancy East Coast prep school is the answer, Lee becomes a scholarship student at the wealthy and prestigious Ault School, where she quickly learns that gaining admission isn't the same as gaining acceptance. Prep chronicles Lee's four years at Ault, starting out as an insecure and lonely freshmen, leaving as a love-sick and angst-ridden senior, and reminding us just how very important all this felt at the time.
Coming-of-age stories are hard. Being a teenager is so awkward, clunky, and uncertain, and it's difficult for any adult to write truthfully about that period without being tempted to go back and make revisions, creating a protagonist who's wittier, cooler, or more dangerous than most of us ever really were. So when I finally picked up Prep - a book that was something of a critical darling when it was released and touted as a female version of The Catcher in the Rye - it was with strong feelings of reservation that I began. After all, I had been burned many times before by the coming-of-age novel, and female authors tend to be the worst offenders for some reason.
So, imagine my delight when Prep turned out to be everything it was lauded to be - a smart, honest, insightful, and often embarrassing trip back to one's formative years that doesn't make apologies or unnecessary revisions. It was far from perfect, often painful, and at 449 pages sometimes felt a bit long, but these criticisms were easy for me to overlook seeing as I've never related to any fictional character the way I related to Lee Fiora. Apart from the boarding school element, reading her story was like revisiting my own high school years, complete with all the heartbreak, angst, and feelings of self-doubt that it entailed. Lee's decisions are often questionable, her insecurities difficult to reason, and she can often be downright unlikeable, but if we're being honest with ourselves - weren't we all? Aren't some of us still?
With Prep, Sittenfeld nailed what it's really like to be a teenager - or at least what it was really like for me - and in so doing restored my faith in the genre. No small feat, that.(less)