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Joe College

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  3,364 ratings  ·  248 reviews
For many college students, Spring Break means fun and sun in Florida. For Danny, a Yale junior, it means two weeks behind the wheel of the Roach Coach, his father's lunch truck, which plies the parking lots of office parks in central New Jersey.

But Danny can use the time behind the coffee urn to try and make sense of a love life that's gotten a little complicated. There's
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Brian Levinson
Oh man, I wanted to like this book so much. I really did. As a working-class kid from North Jersey (OK, Suffern, NY, but that town is essentially in Jersey -- check Google Maps if you don't believe me) who attended Yale as a financial-aid student, I thought it would really speak to me. And it did -- for the first half. Perrotta brings a fresh, outsider's perspective to life at Yale, and his jokes at the expense of rich kids and Whiffenpoofs often had me laughing out loud.

However, the second half
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Matt
Perrotta does a really good job of making you like Danny, the main character. He's got a ton of flaws, and he makes a lot of mistakes, but you know deep down he's a good person. He knows when he's doing something wrong, but he's a young guy in college and does it anyway. I think most dudes can relate.

I've heard people say they don't like how he doesn't ever have to take responsibility for his actions. Fuck that. Smart kids get away with stuff. Some people are lucky and that's the way shit happen
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Fabian
I guess it takes considerable je ne sais quoi to read a writer’s work and enjoy it so much that simultaneously you want to read his other works-- in my case “Little Children” (“Election” still being in my queue). Perrotta wrote that one after “Joe College” and it is as serious as this one is fun. Perrotta, I am sorry, surpasses Nick Hornby (his mediocre “Slam” is similar to this in the way our main man must conserve his manhood as his biological function to create new life has been breached and ...more
Paula
I'm sweet on Perrotta, so of course I loved it! Danny, the main character, is kind of a putz--but a loveable putz. Danny is obviously telling this story to the reader from some point in the future, and he could have made himself look better, but doesn't. Danny is unflinchingly honest about his selfish thoughts and actions, experienced during the all-consuming self-centeredness that is young adulthood/college. Perrotta does a great job of portraying the conflict between Danny's working class guil ...more
Miranda
Mar 21, 2009 Miranda rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Perrotta fans; men and women
Danny is a lucky guy; however, he is also a big weenie who has the gumption to fight the mobsters of his town, but he refuses to face his own demons. That is okay, though, because he does not have to face his demons. He does not have to own up to using his hometown girlfriend Cindy, he does not have to worry about his father's "Roach Coach" that is damaged, and he does not fight for his new interest Polly. Danny is just a static guy who observes life but never reaches deep in his soul to live th ...more
Elizabeth K.
This is the same guy that wrote Little Children, and Election, which is probably more famous as a movie. Anyway, according to the author this novel is based on his own college experiences in the early 80s. We've got a kid from a working class background in New Jersey who is at Yale on a scholarship, casually dating a girl from back home whom he doesn't really want to be dating, and hopelessly pursing another classmate who really isn't available. Also, a cast of wacky roommates. I had mixed respo ...more
Pat Herndon
Preface: I love Tom Perrotta and have already read Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher and The Left Overs. Also...my high school boyfriend left me behind as I attended junior college so he could attend Yale. Yikes. Such a ring of familiarity to the plot (but I was NOT pregnant!). The years even match very closely. I am sure my old boyfriend's time at Yale over-lapped with Perrotta's. Thus, I was primed to enjoy this book. I probably would have given this book a 5-star rating, but the main ch ...more
Allan Hough
This book sucks. It's just good enough to keep you reading through to the end just to see what happens, but in my book, a book like that is worse that a fully bad book. At least with a fully bad book you can just put it down right away and forget about it.
Parksy
Very good snap shot of life in college... and life in the 80's. Excellent smooth and quick writing style, but nothing epic.

Amazon.com:
Having penned Election, a great novel of high-school manners, Tom Perrotta gives us Joe College, a great novel about college mores. In 1982, one Yale junior struggles with George Eliot, dorm blanket bingo, dining-hall dish-line duty, a massive crush on a girl in love with his favorite prof, daily cards and calls from a girl back home in New Jersey, and a lush prof
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Isabel
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. At it's best, it's a story about growing up. The narrator's awareness starts as he recognizes the stereotypes around him, then he discovers that he has been living up to a shallow stereotype of himself as "Joe College." The tone reminds me of Huck Finn. The narrator has a very self-involved view, but despite that manages to reveal complex issues in the world around him. Young women involved with older men, pressures of parents on their children, d ...more
Tara
I like the way Perrotta writes--his word choices, his analogies, his detailed descriptions, his perceptive wit. While I enjoyed reading Joe College, I felt that the main character Danny was unlikeable and selfish through parts of the book, especially when dealing with Cindy, his summer "townie" fling. Perhaps this was the intention, to paint Danny as book-smart but relationship-dumb, and despite his flaws, you can't really blame the kid for his missteps. Matt is Danny's co-worker at the college ...more
Jordan
Tom Perrotta's novel Joe College is an interesting examination of how adolescents and young adults enact different social roles. Danny is the son of a blue collar lunch truck driver from New Jersey. Danny also happens to attend Yale where he works in a university dining hall. These two environments help to show the contrast in the world of Yale. These three environments are what set us up to understand the differences in the culture of Danny's home in New Jersey, the people who work in the dinin ...more
Ravi
Danny is an introspective, intelligent kid from working class New Jersey going through his Junior year as an English major at Yale in the early eighties. He doesn't fit in at home in New Jersey but seems to fit in at Yale even though all his friends come from wealthy upper class families. The most interesting parts of the book take place back home in NJ with his parents, his friends or his summer fling with a local girl. He is a likable kid even though he doesn't always make the conventional rig ...more
Taka
A Funny Page-turner--

Especially after the dark world of Ellroy, this came as a relief and grateful change of pace. It's a breeze of a read that makes you forget about the flow of time and immerse you in a pleasant, lighthearted fictional dream.

Being an Ivy graduate myself, I thoroughly enjoyed his portrayal of Yale and what nightmares could befall on an undergraduate. His observations are both funny and dead-on when it comes to describing certain actions the characters in his story do and the pe
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Kristie
Since most reviewers already give a brief summary of the book, I will skip that and get right to my review.

I love this book!!! I found it on the bargain shelf at Borders a few years ago and took a chance on it. What a fun story and hilarious cast of characters. I have since read every book written by Mr. Perrotta and will continue to do so. None of the others have quite made the same impression on me as Joe College but (for me) the emotion of not knowing what to expect and then to be completely,
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Abigail Hillinger
Not Perrotta's best. Not nearly.

Kind of a simple story. College boy likes college girl, college boy unknowingly gets involved with townie girl from back home, college boy gets townie girl preggers. Add in some stories about working at the dining hall and some random gang violence (even though it's set at Yale), and that's basically the story.

It wasn't comparable to Election, Little Children, or Wishbones, but still. It's Tom Perrotta and deserves even a quick skim. Maybe I simply need to re-read
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Scott
I enjoyed this book about class differences, life in an Ivy League school in the 8os, and the daily travails of the lunch cart industry. Danny, the main character, is a likeable guy who takes us on a first-person account of his college years, with several hilarious anecdotes along the way.

I didn't like many references to books (most "classics") that I hadn't read - while the author is being true to the 1st person narrative of our English major main character, I just felt uncultured - and set th
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Travis Ward
I give JOE COLLEGE four stars because I think the writing is good and the story kept me going. My favorite part of the book was the reminder of what college life was really like in the 1980s, including its ugly, often stupid, confused aspects. I say that as a compliment to the author; he did a good job of remembering the nitty gritty details that make some of us cringe when we think back... But, the perspective is decidedly male -- I didn't feel that female characters in the book had any great r ...more
Karen Germain
I discovered Perrotta a few months ago and I am continuing in my quest to read all of his novels. I had read some bad reviews about this one, but I liked it just as much as I liked his other books. I found it relatable and entertaining. I really liked Danny, especially since he wasn't perfect and often made bad choices. I liked that he stuck to his convictions, even if to his own detriment. The ending was a touch odd. Perrotta is great at writing ending paragraphs that make an impression.
Jake
While nowhere near the level of literary heft and satirical bite as Little Children, Joe College is still an entirely enjoyable read with some probing questions into the relationship between upper and lower classes, between privileged Ivy Leaguers and the townies that serve them.

The plot tends to meander and Perotta fleshes out relationships that are irrelevant at best, but the book overall is a great read. Good on its own, but less enviable when compared to Little Children.
Mark

I don't know why I've never read any Perrotta, but even though a friend who has read most of his work said she was not a big fan of this book, I found it addictively readable, and even though the protagonist went to Yale in the 80s and not my state school in the 60s, there was an awful lot I could relate to.

Danny is likeable but flawed. Still not quite believing he belongs at Yale, he spends his summers and breaks driving his dad's Roach Coach in New Jersey, a quick lunch truck that visits indus
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Michael Jenkins
This is another amazing witty book by Tom Perrotha. The characters are hysterical and not forgettable,which is a huge plus. It reminded me a lot college,because of the mess the friends got them into to. Danny and Chuck were my favorite character,they were just hilarious. Also I can relate this book, the characters often reminded me of myself in certain ways. However I was disappointed with the ending, but other than that this is a good read;highly recommend.
Jill
This was great - it reminded me of a Curtis Sittenfeld book in the amazing little details that made it a joy to read. I did not like it as much as Little Children but I think this was one of Perrotta's first books. He does a great job making fun of some of the ridiculousness of college life, for example a section in the beginning on highlighting that I thought was basically brilliant. The overall story is very entertaining with a thought provoking main character.
Patrick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kim Trusty
You know those guys who consider themselves to be "nice guys" but are actually d-bags? Well, Perotta's protagonist, Danny, is a "nice guy". A New Jersey native at Yale, Danny is caught between his working class beginnings and his posh (possible) future. You know what? I'm not writing another word about this book. Other than it's no "Election". Or "Little Children".
j
I read this in 2002, while on summer break from college. I know for sure I finished it. I remember nothing about it. Therefore, I can only determine that it was, at best, OK. I know I didn't hate it because I but Tom Perrotta on my to-read list and ended up liking both Election and Little Children quite a bit more.
Amar Pai
Exceedingly minor memoir by some kid who went to Yale. He breaks up with his girlfriend, does the required reading, works at a lunch truck. Who cares.
J.A. Carter-Winward
I started this book with high expectations after loving Little Children. At first, the book presented a sort of Rothesque character in Danny, a lower middle-class kid who is attending Yale University. His conflicts with the women in his life felt like a revisitation of many of Roth's male characters and so I felt right at home.

As the book played out, I found Danny lacking in the characteristic self-reflection (let's face it, the obsessive self-reflection) of Roth's male characters. He seemed to
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Crabbygirl
i've earmarked a different book from this author for a want-to-read for bookclub but wanted a taste of him now...
the book seemed fine until the abrupt ending.

set in the early 80's and in college, alot of the dorm life was true to my memories of that time. there were lots of plot point revolving around class, and i wondered if this guy was supposed to be a modern holden caulfield.
but his default position is laziness - although he may think a revolutionary thought here and there, he doesn't pon
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Jane
The first Tom Perrotta book that I read. The fact that it was a coming of age story is aways a plus for me.
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Tom Perrotta (born August 13, 1961) is an American novelist and screenwriter best known for his novels Election (1998) and Little Children (2004), both of which were made into critically acclaimed, Golden Globe-nominated films. Perrotta co-wrote the screenplay for the 2006 film version of Little Children with Todd Field, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay ...more
More about Tom Perrotta...
The Leftovers Little Children The Abstinence Teacher Election Nine Inches: Stories

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“He made me think of all the books I hadn't read, and all the ones I'd read but hadn't fully understood.” 1719 likes
“From a distance, it makes perfect sense that the people and the things you think will save you are the very ones that have the power to disappoint you most bitterly, but up close it can hit you as a bewildering surprise.” 87 likes
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