I went to prep school. Briefly. In Massachusetts. It was a place with a chapel and a headmaster who knew everyone's names.
When I tell people that, they're like whoa, really? Because, I assume, me and the place described in this book don't seem to go together very well - which, good point, we didn't - and then they say what was it like? And I should just hand them this book and say it was like this.
It was exactly
like this, down to such uncanny details that I looked it up to make sure it wasn't the same school. (It wasn't, it was Groton.) So if you've been to boarding school, even for a minute, you'll enjoy this - and if you've ever wondered what it would be like, or at least what it was once like, it was like this, for better and for worse.
And it's most definitely like this to be on financial aid. I reacted to the feeling differently than she did, but I certainly felt her alienation - the invisible wall separating us from most everyone else. Some of the rich students were oblivious to our financial gulf, but I certainly wasn't. Not for a second. Later I would learn how to take a kind of aggressive pride in my not-richness, but I hadn't learned it then; I just felt disadvantaged. It made me feel bad.
I love Lee, the hero or the antihero of this book, because I think you can interpret her either way. I personally have a thing for quiet, smart, sarcastic girls, so I'm on her team, but her climactic act...well, it's villainous, isn't it? She is
the bad guy, after all, technically, isn't she?
It doesn't all quite hang together as a novel. It's more of a series of vignettes. But it's awfully engagingly written, and wonderfully clearly seen. I dug it.