Good Reads - Fiction
Stories from Prep and Boarding Schools
Farrelly, Peter - Outside Providence - 1988, 205 p.
Timothy Dunphy, of gritty, working-class Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is banished to boarding school in Connecticut by a father who doesn’t know what else to do with him. The family has been marked by tragedy, and the only one Dunphy has left to turn to is his father, the person he despises—and needs—most.
Fry, Stephen - Revenge - 2000, 316 p.
In this modern retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, Ned Maddstone is a seventeen-year-old prep school student who has it all: money, privilege, and a beautiful girlfriend. But his good fortune makes him a target, and one day his luck runs out. Drugged and kidnapped, he wakes up in a prison cell far from home. Nearly losing his will to live, he befriends a fellow prisoner who is apparently brilliant, but insane. Through this friendship, Ned regains his strength and seeks retribution from those who ruined his life.
Green, Risa - Notes from the Underbelly - 2005, 293 p.
Lara Stone is director of college counseling at Bel Air High Prep, an elite high school full of kids who drive cars that are even nicer than her Mercedes. After life as a high-powered attorney, Lara relishes her relatively stress-free job as a guidance counselor. One thing she’s definitely not ready for yet is children of her own, especially the “nobody’s-ever-said-no-to-them” kind she encounters every day. When Lara discovers she’s pregnant, she must work through her ambivalence about motherhood, all while battling hormones, weight gain, and stares from curious teenagers.
Harris, Joanne - Gentlemen and Players - 2006, 422 p.
A new English teacher begins his first term at St. Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys with a much bigger—and more sinister—agenda than the education of young minds. He has returned to the grounds where he grew up as the son of the maintenance man to settle old scores for never being allowed to belong. The only person who might stand in his way is Classics teacher Roy Straitley, who is soon to retire. But Straitley has one last big fight left within him, and like a chess master and his protégé, the two teachers battle one another for the soul of St. Oswald’s.
Martinez, Michele - The Finishing School - 2006, 387 p.
Federal Prosecutor Melanie Vargas is back on the job, this time investigating the high-profile murders of two beautiful students at an exclusive girls’ school in Manhattan. To catch the elusive and cunning killer before he strikes again, Vargas goes undercover, along with dangerously handsome FBI Agent Dan O’Reilly. A fast-paced jaunt from New York City’s most elite corners to its darkest ones, The Finishing School will grip readers from beginning to end.
Sittenfeld, Curtis - Prep: A Novel - 2005, 406 p.
Lee Fiora is the product of public schools—that is until she decides to apply to Ault, an elite boarding school in Massachusetts. When she’s admitted on full scholarship, her stunned parents don’t understand her choice, but support it. Lee quickly realizes how much she has to learn about boarding school culture and the folkways of her fellow classmates. She also falls in love with the golden boy of her class, and to her surprise, he eventually notices her, too. This coming-of-age tale will evoke in readers memories of their own adolescence in all its joy and pathos.
Wolff, Tobias - Old School: A Novel - 2003, 195 p.
It’s 1960 and to the boys at this New England prep school, poets and writers like Robert Frost and Ayn Rand are rock stars, and English teachers are revered. It’s also a school in which the students on scholarship, like the narrator, must try harder than others to win a position within the social hierarchy. One way to gain the admiration of one’s peers is to win the annual writing contest, which grants one boy each year a private audience with all of the visiting writers. The narrator becomes obsessed in his quest to win, setting himself on a disastrous course.
Yates, Richard - A Good School: A Novel - 1978, 178 p.
From the author of Revolutionary Road, this novel of love, longing, and war is set in a prep school for boys in the 1940s. Dorset Academy is a place of last resort for wayward boys who have been kicked out of or refused admittance to other schools. Though the school prides itself on “individuality” and has many passionate teachers and administrators, it will close its doors after graduating the class of 1944. Readers who enjoy multiple points of view, closely observed characters, and detailed settings will welcome this book.
Prepared by Gretchen Rings, September 2009