Review: Joe College
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
From the cover:
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 loyal and patient hometown honey Cindy and her recently dropped bombshell to contend with. And there’s also lissome Polly back in New Haven—with her shifting moods, perfect thrift store dresses and inconvenient liaison with a dashing professor.
If girl problems aren’t enough, there’s the constant menace of the Lunch Monsters, a group of thugs who think Danny has planted the Roach Coach in their territory.
JOE COLLEGE is Tom Perrotta’s warmest and funniest fiction yet, a comic journey into the dark side of love, higher education and food service.
If you’re reminiscing about your college life and wondering what it’s like to be young, free and immature again, then pick up Joe College.
On the surface, Danny is your typical carefree college student living life one day at a time. But upon closer examination, there are several layers to him as he struggles to balance his status as a student from an Ivy League university and his background from a blue collar working class family. The personal struggle between the two sides is also reflected in his love life as he juggles Cindy and Polly.
While I was reading the book, I was really conflicted about how I felt about Danny. On one hand, I couldn’t agree with how he handled his personal demons and solved his problems. In fact, now that I think about it, he didn’t solve any problems. Instead he just let the problem resolve on its own. At the same time though, I knew that deep down inside he was a good person. He may not always make the best choices and he’s as flawed of a character as you can get, but I couldn’t help but like him and hope that there was a good ending in store for him. Maybe it’s because his laidback attitude reminded me so much of my cousin that I couldn’t find myself completely hating him, but rather envious of his luck.
He described himself as “basically a lucky person, that bad situations had a way of working out in [his] favor”. At the beginning I was a little frustrated about how easy his problems were resolved. He never had to work for it. But then I realized that this happens in life. Sometimes you’re lucky and the problem just resolves on its own and you move on with your life. Sometimes you’re unlucky and the problem just eats at you. It’s life, you learn to live with it.
If you have the time to read it, then I would recommend it. It was enjoyable, but not mind blowing or anything spectacular.
On a quick side note, I had to repress a quick laugh when the Roach Coach first came up because it reminded me of my cousin’s brilliant plan to start his own business by opening up a taco stand (at the time he was hating his job… didn’t I tell you that my family and corporate jobs just don’t go hand in hand together?). Anyways, this wasn’t going to be just any taco stand; it was going to be a “gourmet” taco stand with a purpose to serve the corporate workers in downtown with short lunch breaks. And who will be cooking up the tacos while my cousin is managing the business? Moi and company. Could you believe my cousin actually tried to convince my other cousins and me to drop out of school and help him run the business? So you’re probably wondering what happen to this grand plan of his. Well… he got a job offer in Denver that he just couldn’t say no to so he packed his bags and moved to Denver and the plan left with him.