College Girl by Patricia Weitz
Riverhead (December 26, 2008)
As someone currently finishing up their college experience, I think that I can speak with authority when I say that this is one of the most true-to-life stories about a post-adolescent woman that I've ever read. I identified with a lot of what Natalie felt and experienced throughout this novel. While her many of her experiences or decisions were different from my own, they definitely mirrored those of some friends and acquaintances of mine.
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.
Weitz gives an excellent and accurate account of what is reality for many young, college-age women.
Natalie can be aggravating, endearing, sad and naive - everything that a reader could hate in a more simple character in a more shallow story. But here, it works. Just when your ready to give up on her, thinking that she'll never learn, she changes - grows.
The story itself is simple. There is no traditional plot. No, it's all about Natalie and her progression, regression and subsequent redemption. And it's satisfying all the same.