Joe College A Novel

Tom Perrotta

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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A New York Times Notable Book

For many Ivy League college students, spring break means a raucous road trip to a spot in the sun. For Danny, a Yale junior, the spring of 1982 means two weeks behind the wheel of the Roach Coach, his dad's lunch truck 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. At home, there's loyal and patient Cindy and her recently-dropped bombshell. There is also Polly in New Haven—with her shifting moods, perfect thrift store dresses and inconvenient liaison with a dashing professor. If those problems aren't enough, there's the 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 comic journey into the dark side of young love, higher education and food service.


Praise for Joe College

"It takes a sharp eye and a light touch . . . to take on the back-to-school genre as knowingly as Mr. Perrotta has . . . An overwhelmingly pleasing book."—The New York Times

"An absorbing, fleshed-out portrait of an American male edging toward adulthood by crossing seemingly rigid social boundaries."—The New York Times Book Review

"I have a new favorite book, Joe College, and this is why: Tom Perrotta wrote it; an irresistible and accidentally heroic voice narrates it; angst has never been more delicious, food funnier, or Yale more accessible. What a great pleasure."—Elinor Lipman, author of The Inn at Lake Devine

"Tom Perrotta gets it right . . . one of the few convincing portrayals of college life I've ever come across . . . a comic novel so enjoyable you'll find yourself turning the last page in no time."—Newsday

"Proves yet again that Perrotta's books are sheer pleasure."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Tom Perrotta . . . is like an American Nick Hornby: companionable and humane, lighthearted and surprisingly touching."—Newsweek

"Another perfectly pitched, subversively hilarious chronicle of prolonged adolescence . . . Joe College almost makes you wish you could relive the whole god-awful mess all over again."—Kirkus Reviews

"Fast-paced, funny, and provides valuable insights into an era that somehow seems more than a single generation past."—Booklist

"No one chronicles growing up in suburban New Jersey in the late 1970s and early 1980s better than Perrotta . . . [He] is a master of the light comic touch and wry social observation; his take on yellow highlighters and highlighting techniques is very, very funny."—Library Journal

"Perrotta is in full control of his quirky comic sensibility, and they make it easy to root for Danny as he navigates his way from his blue-collar past to his privileged future."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Joe College

part one
pencil dicks
All through that winter and into the spring, when our Tuesday- and Thursday-night dinner shifts were done, Matt and I would sit at the long table near the salad bar and plan...

Read the full excerpt


  • Tom Perrotta

  • Tom Perrotta is the author of Election, The Wishbones and Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies. Election was made into the acclaimed 1999 movie starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, and is a 1983 graduate of Yale.

  • Tom Perrotta
    Tom Perrotta


    Tom Perrotta

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