I hated this book. Let me reiterate. I HATED, H-A-T-E-D this book! By the second chapter, which, by the way, was about 30 pages in, (This was a short chapter, the last was over 60 pages.) I was so sick of the main character, Lee, continually thinking that she couldn't speak to anyone because she didn't measure up.
Now, I know that many young women feel they don't measure up. They feel that they can't speak to boys or really have close relationships with anyone, but this poor girl went four years barely speaking to anyone. It really wasn't realistic. The young women I know, even the ones who have trouble in this area of self esteem still do not seclude themselves to the extent of speaking to no one and never sharing concerns or problems with anyone.
My first complaint: What thirteen year old would actually sign up for prep school on her own, especially a self loathing one? The premise didn't fit the character.
My second complaint: The names. AHHHH. Now, I get that this is a prep school, so the names might be a little different than your average book, but having Aubrey be a guy and Horton a girl just drove me absolutely insane. Among others are Aspeth, Cross, Dede, Ferdy, Darden, Conchita, and oh, I think there was a Jonathan. At least one normal name made the list. My third complaint was that the book moved at a snail's pace. I'm a fairly fast reader and it took me literally three weeks of reading every night to stomach this book. I can usually finish a book in a day or two, but not this monster.
Now I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to even discuss this book. I think I've partially blocked it out of my mind because I'm trying to think of some redeeming qualities to discuss and nothing is coming to me.
I guess I'll begin by trying to trace Lee's four years at Ault School.
Year one: Lee is a scholarship student, which essentially means that she is not of the same class as the rest of the students whose parents are multi-millionaires or CEOs of companies and the like. This immediately sets her apart from the crowd and starts that self loathing she's so desperate to revel in. By Freshman spring, she begins a game of assassin. This game consists of "killing" the other students with stickers. It is here that she could have taken advantage of the game in order to actually try to have a normal friendship with someone, but instead uses her incognito to her advantage. That is until she stabs her one and only friend in the back and is "killed" by her. Ha! Serves her right.
Year two: Her English teacher is a bit odd, and we later find out that she was not first choice by the administration at Ault. The kids torment her. Also notable in this chapter is that Lee starts to cut people's hair. She uses it as a way to get close to people without having to actually have a conversation or real interaction that might, God forbid, lead to friendship.
My favorite quote from this section goes like this: "This anxiety meant that I spent a lot of time hiding, usually in my room after any pleasant exchange with another person. And there were rules to the anxiety, practically mathematical in their consistency: The less well you knew the person the greater the pressure the second time around to be special or charming, if that's what you though you'd been the first time; mostly it was about reinforcement. Also: The shorter the time that had elapsed from your first encounter to your second,the greater the pressure. And finally: The better the original interaction, the greater the pressure."
When someone is so preoccupied by themselves in every situation, as Lee was, it's no wonder that she didn't have the capacity to make friends. She was too busy worrying what people would think or just how she should react in every situation. Some people, I know are that caddy and would judge on what you say or how you act, but those people aren't worth your time. For the most part, humanity is fairly forgiving when it comes to personality flaws.
Oh, yeah, this is also the year that she blows off her parents when they come to parents weekend.
Year three: She meets a guy who works in the kitchen. There is potential there, but now she's so preoccupied with trying to impress people she doesn't even like that she blows him off. Too bad.
Lee nearly fails math, but luckily, her roommate cheats for her and she passes and is not asked the leave the school as a result. I'm amazed that after nearly failing pre-calc, the next year, she surprisingly understands enough of both pre-calc and calc to pass with a B. Wow! Impressive. (Can you hear my sarcasm?)
It is also this year that she begins sleeping with Cross Sugarman. But, don't think that she can actually have a normal relationship of any kind. Oh, no. She asks him not to tell anyone and even goes so far as to intentionally ignore him other than in their secret rendezvous room.
Year four: This year mostly concentrated on her continually sleeping with Cross and then ignoring him. She struggles through the how-do-you-know-it's-love feeling about every other day until I wanted to scream!
The final straw is when she chooses to air her complaints about life and Ault to a reporter and pretty much kills the school's reputation singlehandedly. And just when she was starting to like the place that she's hated for three and a half years.
O.k. people, if I have to force myself to write any more about this book, I might fall into as deep a depression as the main character and sever any functioning relationships that I have out out of understanding of the character. I can't do that, so I'll end my thoughts now.
Let me leave you with one last thought.
If you are a young girl who has anxiety about forming relationships with people or has trouble talking to boys, please don't think that this book is the way it has to be. As I stated before, most humans are forgiving of small mistakes and by golly, they might actually like you if you just give it a shot.