College Girl is a vivid portrait of life on a college campus and a poignant look at what happens to a twenty-year-old college senior (and her self-esteem) when she loses her virginity and falls for the wrong guy.
Just as Curtis Sittenfeld's bestselling Prep drew us into the world of boarding school and its social relationships, College Girl perfectly captures the experience of college, of being a student at a big state university-- complete with its jocks and hipsters, frats and sororities, drinking rituals and cafeteria food, its economic, academic, and social pressures--and how it gets funneled into the campus culture of collegiate sex and dating. In particular, College Girl reveals what all this means for a girl inexperienced in sex and romance, dealing with the demons she's brought from home.
College senior Natalie Bloom is beautiful and ambitious, but also incredibly insecure and painfully uncomfortable with the subject of sex--let alone the act. She's awkward at developing friendships with girls, but it's sexual attention from boys that really makes her lose her cool. At age twenty, she's a virgin--never having had a boyfriend. Avoiding her peers, Natalie hides out most weekends in the library. That is, until she meets Patrick, her fantasy (she thinks) of a cultured, intellectual Prince Charming--and everything changes. But the more time they spend together, the more Patrick brings out her worst insecurities. Natalie loses her virginity before she's ready, and as their sexual activity escalates, Natalie's emotional responses become dangerously self-destructive. Ultimately, she must take extreme measures to reclaim her sense of self, her confidence, and her ambition.
An insightful, moving, and achingly self-aware novel that offers the psychological and emotional insight of Judy Blume and Ann Brashares, College Girl will resonate with anyone who remembers the often awkward transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Weitz takes a weak stab at a collegiate version of Prep in this disappointing me-too. Beautiful but virginal Natalie Bloom, a student at the University of Connecticut, has traded her working-class past for a spot at the bourgeois party school. While she maintains good grades, she is less successful in the social scene--a menacing environment where horny frat boys lurk in dark corners and couples easily betray each other--until she meets Patrick in, naturally, the library. Though Natalie insists she's shy, her dialogue with men is snappy and direct, and she and Patrick move toward dating in a series of dull getting-to-know-you conversations. When the relationship turns sexual, Natalie finds herself doubtful about his intentions, but she soldiers on until a weakly developed subplot about her brother's suicide somehow brings her to her senses. Without a comprehensible or urgent plot, the novel relies on its characters, but bland Natalie is surrounded by equally forgettable, interchangeable supporting personalities. When Natalie finally does find her happy ending, the reader won't really care. (Jan.)
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December 25, 2008
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