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Joe College

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  3,849 Ratings  ·  284 Reviews
Populated by a vividly drawn cast of characters -- Yale students and lunch truck drivers alike -- JOE COLLEGE evokes two radically different worlds through Tom Perrotta's distinctive combination of humor, sweetness, and telling detail. JOE COLLEGE is a serious comic novel about love, higher education, and food service, a uniquely American story about the mistakes we som
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2000)
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Sep 08, 2011 Fabian rated it really liked it
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 on 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 soon as his biological function to create new life has been breach ...more
Brian Levinson
Jun 17, 2007 Brian Levinson rated it it was ok
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
Jul 21, 2007 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Allan Hough
Dec 30, 2008 Allan Hough rated it did not like it
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.
Jul 30, 2007 Paula rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2008 Miranda rated it liked it
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.
Aug 05, 2009 Elizabeth K. rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008-new-reads
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
Dec 20, 2013 Pat Herndon rated it really liked it
Preface: I love Tom Perrotta and have already read Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher and The Left Overs. 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
Elizabeth Hesseltine
Aug 13, 2015 Elizabeth Hesseltine rated it it was ok
About 7 months in the life of a college student: he goes to parties, works in the school cafeteria, gets laid, and drinks beer. Not much changed between the first chapter and the last.
Aug 17, 2010 Parksy rated it liked it
Very good snap shot of life in college... and life in the 80's. Excellent smooth and quick writing style, but nothing epic.
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
Sep 09, 2010 Tara rated it liked it
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
Feb 01, 2010 Isabel rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
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
Jan 19, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
I don't usually read this kind of book, not at all. I took it off my step-mother's shelf while I was home for the holidays and read it. And I enjoyed it! I mean, it's funny, and Tom Perrotta makes writing look so effortlessly easy. I'm completely jealous of how he never struggles with making every page move, tells stories within stories, creates dialogue that sounds like a movie that isn't stupid, and all that jazz.

So, it's not a deep book or a heavy one, but it's entertaining, inoffensive (that
Nov 06, 2012 Ravi rated it really liked it
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
Mar 07, 2010 Taka rated it really liked it
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
Jan 04, 2013 Jordan rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2011 Kristie rated it really liked it
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,
Jan 08, 2010 Scott rated it really liked it
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
Abigail Hillinger
Apr 18, 2007 Abigail Hillinger rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Sep 11, 2008 Jill rated it really liked it
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.
Karen Germain
Jan 30, 2008 Karen Germain rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 06, 2007 Jake rated it really liked it
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.
May 04, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 05, 2010 j rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Damion Cavicchio
Oct 12, 2015 Damion Cavicchio rated it did not like it
I've figured out that I hate Tom Perrotta's style of writing. He's not interesting. I feel like he is Jonathan Tropper Lite. He isn't as funny or as witty as a Tropper no matter how hard he tries. I think I now realize the difference between a story and a book. A story is a concept, while a book is a complete package with an ending. Perrotta's is an author of stories. Not books.
Kim Trusty
Apr 09, 2014 Kim Trusty rated it it was ok
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".
Nov 10, 2008 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
The first Tom Perrotta book that I read. The fact that it was a coming of age story is aways a plus for me.
Amar Pai
Jun 27, 2014 Amar Pai rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 07, 2007 Lori rated it liked it
Recommends it for: generation x
Shelves: 2007february
Passable, predictable Perotta. Certainly not as good as Little Children.
Oct 03, 2014 Patrick rated it liked it
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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
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