Thursday, February 26, 2009

College Girl by Patricia Weitz

Here's the premise of College Girl: Natalie is a college senior majoring in Russian history. She supposes she's fairly attractive. She's never had a boyfriend and is more than a little obsessed with the fact that she's a virgin. She feels like the only 20-year-old on campus who still is.

There you go. That's about it. You can probably guess what happens, but just to be clear: She hooks up with this cute guy who seems to be into her. At first. And she completely loses track of her sense of self. Not that she has much sense of self, outside of her awareness of being perceived as a studious introvert--when she thinks she's perceived at all.

I felt I should've been able to connect more with Natalie's character--my 20-year-old self and Natalie had quite a bit in common on the surface--but from the beginning, she was a character I didn't especially feel sympathy for or empathize with. Her perception of what her college experience should be is nothing I recognized of my own 20-year-old self's expectations. (In college, I never smoked anything and never got soused, and I was never especially tempted to.)

In the end, though, it comes down to this: Natalie has no confidence and does too much navel-gazing, mistaking it for reflection. The extent of her navel-gazing gets in the way of other characters' development, which results in mostly static characters throughout.

And then there's the issue of plot. There's only one. Potential sub-plots were quashed as the book progressed, and it all boiled down to the cute guy and sex, no matter how detrimental the relationship became. (The lack of plot did make this book a very quick read.)

Natalie reminds me a little bit of Bee at the end of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, after Bee has slept with the college-bound soccer guy and becomes a lost shell of a person and spends the whole second book trying to reclaim her self.

I appreciate what I think Weitz tried to create, but in the end the story comes up short. I'm sorry to say that I can't recommend this book; there are far better books to spend your time with. (Of which The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is just one.)

4 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Sorry this one didn't work for you.

jaime said...

You said it better than I!

Alea said...

It seems like a lot of people were just eh about this. I'm still hoping I'll enjoy it!

Amy said...

i like when people are honest in their reviews, and don't sugarcoat it. great post!
-amy