I am Charlotte Simmons was great, but I want a complete explanation from Joe, who said I reminded him of the main character. She did indeed do something foolish--lots.
The book indicts American higher education as being shallow, booze-filled, purposeless, and filled with immorality, detailing the corruption of an intelligent, naive girl.
I certainly experienced some of the things that he shares as "the gospel truth of what occurs in America's colleges;" however, my own college experience was actually filled with reading and learning, as well as boys and drinking. There were no cliff notes in my dorm room!
The story is well-considered and mature. I felt like the characters were well-developed, and they behaved in internally consistent ways. It's a little like a tragedy. Wolfe stretches all that is normally small into bigger and bigger proportions. She experiences a spiritual crisis and is both victim and perpetrator of cultural snobbery, i.e., morality is simply for the little people who fail to understand the complexities that are innate to human nature.
To Joe: I did see myself in the main character, in her naivete and her inability to make good decisions. She likes the guy she shouldn't. She can't like her intellectual equal. She gets hurt, so on and so forth, but the story isn't as clichéd as I make it sound. It's fleshy and new, interesting.
In the end, the novel is multi-layered. It's about higher education, but it's also simply about one girl (I don't say woman, because she isn't one) being startled by the absence of morality at her ivy league school. It's about the brilliance of a star growing dim. She cannot achieve without being constantly admired, so she settles for being liked instead of being good. She lacks moral judgement and courage.
Thumbs up from me. If you can stomach the copious amounts of sex, drinking, poor English, disrespect for all things beautiful, and general debauchery, then give it a go.
By the way, right now I don't feel like being all political and editorializing about the current lack of educating that goes on in schools but--I shall just say--it's not a baseless indictment.