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The One Book to Read Before College

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As graduation celebrations pass, you may be left with a plethora of self-guidance books given to you by various people as gifts. If you haven't found one that you like, there's no need to fear. I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe will provide you an accurate portrayal of college, freshman through senior year.

The story features a multitude of characters, raging from ages 18 to over 20, who all attend Dupont University, a fictional college. Charlotte Simmons -- one of the main characters -- first appears in the novel as she is graduating high school. A small town girl, she is hailed as a prodigy, due to the fact that she is the valedictorian of her high school. Throughout the novel, we see Simmons transition into college. She comes face-to-face with adversity of all kinds: roommate troubles, money issues and rigorous classes.

Other characters are weaved into the novel: Jojo Johansson, Adam Gellin and Hoyt Thrope. Jojo gives us the perspective of being an athlete in college, and the corruption that can occur from that title. Adam is a senior, sulking in his state as a young adult, and how much he has had to sacrifice to be where he is today. Hoyt Thrope fits the description of the typical frat guy: rich, popular and powerful. Yet, he is at a crossroads of his life, when the future is lurking ahead.

The novel discusses themes of peer pressure, stereotypes and the overriding gap between the rich and the poor. To me, I treat these characters as people. I Am Charlotte Simmons made me believe that these characters are people, because each of them deals with real challenges.

While the novel was written in 2004, the story is still relatable and credible. Though the book is lengthy, you will learn more about the college experience than you will with any other book.