Title:  College Girl
Author:  Patricia Weitz
Release date:  December 6, 2008
Publisher:  Riverhead Trade
Pages:  336
Genre:  Fiction
Source:  Publisher

Natalie Bloom is an extremely intelligent twenty-year-old who comes from a working-class family, and is the first in her family of seven kids to attend college.  Because of her lack of confidence in herself, her abilities, and her right to be at UConn, she spends 90% of her time studying and has few friends and even fewer boyfriends.  When she meets the gorgeous and super-smart Patrick, and discovers he actually likes her, she finds herself falling for him and cannot figure out a way to stop.  Her infatuation with Patrick combined with her inexperience with relationships causes her grades to slip, her friendships to dwindle, and what little self-esteem she has plummet.  As their relationship spirals from not good to just about as horrific as it can get, Natalie must gain some confidence in herself or she is in danger of losing herself completely.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up College Girl, but I have to say that it surprised me, in a good way.  The novel is told in first person point of view, and I found the voice to be so authentic.  I honestly forgot for a few moments that I was reading a novel and not a memoir, as I felt as though Natalie was talking to me.  She really came across as someone I knew, someone I understood, and I saw a lot of myself in her as well.

Everything about Natalie’s relationship with Patrick infuriated me.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been involved in a similar situation myself, but it made me so very angry how Patrick treated her because I felt for her so deeply.  It broke my heart to see how dysfunctional their relationship was – basically, she loved him and he took advantage of her.  In every way you can imagine.  Nothing I can say about this part of the book will adequately describe how upset Patrick’s actions made me.  Which I suppose is the mark of a good book, that it made me feel this intensely about the situation.

Besides Natalie’s relationship with Patrick, I have to say that I really did like the book.  I literally flew through it – reading it in just a couple of sittings.  I couldn’t tear my eyes away from Natalie’s story – something about her personality really resonated with me, and I couldn’t help but root for her and hope things would turn out well for her in the end.  I just really felt for her, as no one in her life seemed to understand her, especially her own family.  It made me sad that she was so different from her own family – she didn’t even have close relationships with them, let alone the other people in her life.  But she really blossomed over the course of the novel, really came into her own, and I loved reading about that journey she went on.

I really enjoyed College Girl and would highly recommend the novel for those who enjoy coming of age type stories.