Well-Written, Unique, Infuriating? Tom Perrotta’s Joe College

“Things could be worse, I reminded myself. I wasn’t in jail, I wasn’t in the hospital and I wasn’t married. My life was pretty much on track, unchanged by the obstacle course of potential disasters I’d been running for the past several days… Things could definitely have been worse.”


Flashback to the year 1979 when Danny first arrived at Yale University- Hawaiian shirt, glasses, penny loafers and not knowing really what to expect, only to be faced with the obnoxious plethora of singing groups on every stinking corner of campus. Now a junior, Danny has come to realize that along with the overwhelming abundance of hot, smart girls and constant wild parties, he also has to face some pretty harsh realities. While most college kids are off to Florida for Spring Break, this Joe College is off to Darwin, N.J. to run his father’s lunch truck, the Roach Coach, and deal with the Lunch Monsters, a group of ass-kicking, lunch-route-stealing bodybuilders with nearly nonexistent necks. Danny’s home and college lives constantly collide as he’s forced to choose between Cindy, his pastel-wearing, Juicy Fruit-chewing, pregnant “girlfriend” from home and thrift-store-dress-wearing Polly from Yale.

It’s not hard to have zero sympathy for this kid. He’s got his whole life made for him at school and yet he stuffs it away, on and off, for what? Drinking and sex. He takes no responsibility for anything going awry in his life and, to top it all off, he neglects Cindy and can’t wait to have her baby problem off his back. Girls will inevitably hate him, guys…well, sadly, they may feel an odd connection to him and his insensitivity.

Throughout this novel, thrust in your face is the constant reminder of what a drag college can potentially turn out to be as long as your priorities are out of whack. Tom Perrotta’s unique writing style will have you nearly yanking your hair out in frustration with Danny’s idiocies and annoying personal issues. With little quirks of humor spread throughout its pages and its fair share of perverted obscenities, Joe College is a fun yet rousing read that will arm you with the essential question: “How the hell did this guy get into Yale?”

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