The first thing we learn about the idyllic campus of Alabaster Preparatory School is that
Information as to the locale and setting of Alabaster, its course requirements, and the sports activities required therein will be given in these pages solely on a need-to-know basis. (5.1)
Well, gee, that's helpful. Despite this warning that descriptions are going to be sparse, we get pretty ingrained into the culture and scenery of Alabaster. After all, this is where Frankie spends all her time, wandering across those perfect lawns and staring up at the old buildings that have been there since her dad attended school there. The school has quite a history:
Alabaster Preparatory School had begun some 120 years ago on a piece of land that had been subsequently developed into the large, rambling campus where Frankie went to school. (27.45)
But underneath the idyllic setting is a place that has a whole lot of rules (see our take on the "Panopticon" in our "Symbols, Imagery, and Allegory" section). And Frankie starts to find the whole place a little more restrictive than comforting.
That's because everything is determined by the past—by how much money your parents had, and by the traditions they cherished for whatever reason. Frankie's tired of this; she wants to break free from the constructs that confine her. She doesn't want to be at a school that prides itself on tradition because she thinks a lot of those traditions are just plain stupid. If you ask Frankie, Alabaster's traditions keep people from moving upward and forward, so that the school can maintain the status quo.