Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Mauricio Londono, son of a middle-class college professor, thinks that the prestigious St. Stephen’s School for Boys is his dream school. Then he enters as a new freshmen, and quickly realizes that in this world of the rich and privileged, there are a whole different set of rules. Now, Mauricio must navigate his life with little to no knowledge of how things work.
INITIATION reminds me very much of Curtis Sittenfeld’s PREP: middle-class outsider attends a prestigious high school, witnesses with shock the lawless doings of the rich, and emerges from his/her school years relatively unchanged. Even with this proliferation of inaction and non-growth, however, I still definitely enjoyed INITIATION for its convincing portrayal of privileged teen apathy.
Since Mauricio is mostly a non-participating narrator, it’s all the other characters that are fascinating and draw my attention. Mauricio talks about the classmates he comes in contact with—all their ups and downs, convoluted morals, and shocking actions. It is often difficult for us to imagine that students at good high schools will actually act this way, and Mauricio’s narration adds to the prevailing shock and horrifying truth in a way that sticks with you.
INTIATION is not at all plot-based, and even the little plot it contains is overshadowed by the supporting characters. This turns out to be not a bad thing at all: I really think that this book should be read as a look into the lives of students at a private high school rather than one in which the plot was underdeveloped and unexciting.
Overall, I was very impressed with INITIATION and Susan Fine’s writing. She was able to fully convince me that schools such as St. Stephen’s do exist, much as we are loathe to admit it. I look forward to seeing how she continues to write telling studies of adolescent behavior in the future!
Curtis Sittenfeld (Prep)
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Flux / May 2009 - Thank you, Susan, for allowing me to review your book!