I used to have such a fetish for boarding schools. I always wished I could attend one but as a preteen I was too scared to leave home. (And after reading Prep, I am glad I did not go.) Who am I kidding? I still am kind of obsessed with boarding schools. Despite the issues of privilege and access and class. After I graduated college, I worked and taught at Phillips Academy Andover and it was so fricking awesome. I’m forgetting that it was the same place that begat our president. Anyway, you can then imagine how much I lurrrvvvved this series. Reading it again totally gave me the warm squishies and longing for boarding school.
Well, let’s get the background stuff settled. There are 4 girls in their first year of school at the Alma Stephens School for Girls in New Hampshire. They are:
- Shanon Davis” One “n”. That always annoyed me. She’s the token scholarship girl and kind of the killjoy.
- Lisa McGreevy- the token I don’t know what. Ordinary girl?
- Amy Ho: the token student of color- Chinese-American and from NYC. Is funky and plays the guitar. Plays the “funky Asian” first originated by Claudia Kishi.
- Palmer Durand: from Palm Beach, FL. What is with the name? It’s like if my parents were to name me Long Islander. Think Jessica Wakefield and Lila Fowler combined into one character.
Shanon really wants to write for the school paper. So the older editor makes her a gofer. As in, makes her sweep the floor and get coffee. And she does it. Amy tried out for chorus but gets kicked out because she can’t read music. Palmer basically hates everyone and is judgemental and bitchy. They all kvetch about being at an all-girls school and they come up with the idea of advetising for boy pen pals at Ardsley Academy, an all-boys boarding school conveniently located nearby.
Writing to boys cute idea, of course shows the age of it, because if this happened now they would be posting naked pics of themselves on myspace and meeting up in TGIF restrooms to do it. They send out an ad, calling themselves the Foxes of the Third Dimension and finally get a suite over at Ardsley who call themselves the Unknown.
They almost get in trouble with the headmistress, Miss Pryn , thinks it’s an underground sorority prank. I feel like every headmistress character is named Miss Pryn. Finally she says something like, there’s nothing wrong with some old-fashioned letter-writing. Amen!
When I first remembered these, I expected them to be kind of shallow because it revolves round boys, and yes it does, but I think the message is way better. Obviously, they are getting to know the boys and lerning about ech other’s interests and insides (not like that, you perv). The boys seem pretty cute, and seriously very mature for thirteen year olds.
ALTHOUGH reading the letters they send back and forth made me physically cringe. Well, they ARE only thirteen. John writes really bad poetry and Palmer is really mean to him. He’s a redhead with big muscles (oooooh, me likey the redheads). I pictured him as Prince Harry. Minus the nazi costume. Rob Williams is Lisa’s pen pal, and apparently he’s the athletic type. Shanon has some guy named Mars who is basically a tool. Amy gets the infamous Simmie Randolph the Third. Think Bruce Patman. But dumber.
Shanon in her letter to Mars:
P.S. If I were a flower I’d be a petunia, and if I were a piece of music I’d be “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Isn’t that a riot?
No, Shanon, it’s really not.
John sends Palmer this poem:
This arch age
Over the mushroom sky
Roars with muzzled discontent
Tricked by rates of percentage
Until we are mortgaged
Ragged souls, sons of
Energy Wasted, spilled in the
Deep Ocean, but not deep enough
And it’s an acristic for TORTURED. Someone refer this boy to the counseling center.
They all decide to send pics so they take polaroids, but Shaonon has a zit so at the last minute she sends a pic of her older sister instead. Shanon’s insecurity and low self-esteem gets old really quick. So when they realize they are having a Halloween mixer, she gets nervous and decides to dress as an astronaut she Mars can’t see her face. When they meet up he thinks Shanon is playing a joke on him, so Shanon cried and mopes some more. Whatevs.
Well, finally they make up and decide to write more. This is the start of a beautiful friendship! Until Palmer screws them over about a billion times.
Ah, now the cover. I worked hard to find a pic that had detail, because the clothing is AWESOME. Sorry, that was the best one I could find.
Firstly Palmer: what is with the look on her face? Is she weating a SILK CAPE? Next, Amy Ho, who idolized Joan Jett. Noyce leggings. Shanon has on those brown leather lace-up boots that were ALL THE RAGE I had a pair, I thought I was awesome. They are kind of hard to exlain, they were like army boots but feminine. Ok, and Lisa has a shirt with her name on it. Wha? I had one with my name in puffy paint, but I was eight. I made it at a spin-art brthday party. Plus her shoes- I SWEAR THEY ARE PUNKY BREWSTER SHOES! I had a pair. Anyone else?
They also wear a bike pants. A. Lot. At school they need to wear conservative skirts and blouses, but in their dorm they can just go crazy!
The bike pants Lisa had chosen for herself were hot pink; her bright orange turtleneck sweater decorated with hot-pink sequins was set off by a long purple muffler wrapped several times around her neck; her dark hair was swept up on one side with a pink plastic comb. Amy had traded in her clunky shoes for some black cowboy boots with gold tips; she was wearing a black body suit and a Grateful Dead t-shirt. Palmer was dressed like a naturalist in a tweed pants suit, wide-brimmed hat, rubber-soled oxfords.
Lisa is auditioning for the Ice Capades. And Palmer is 62 years old.
I am kind of jealous. A part of me wishes I went to Alma Stephens.