Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Maturity Level: 5 (language)
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Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
How does Rainbow Rowell do it? How does she manage to write novels that are so real? I mean, most of the time when you read a book, even if it’s “realistic fiction” you are aware of the fact that those people aren’t real, and even if a situation is one you yourself have been in you manage to stay somewhat removed. I think that’s often why I enjoy reading. I get away from whatever is going on in my life for just a little while and escape to a place that isn’t real. But when you read a Rainbow Rowell book, it’s like the characters are living and breathing. She perfectly captures everything that is wonderful about life, especially first love, but also everything that is terrible about it. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like magic.
Fangirl was, no surprise, written almost just for me. Though I went to college before “fandoms” REALLY became a thing, I spent my teen years living and breathing Harry Potter. And while I didn’t get in to fanfiction (the graphic sex scenes freaked out my innocent teenage self), I read and wrote a little bit of it. Still do, from time to time. I was a bit of a loner in college, not quite fitting in. I spent a lot of time in my room. I pretty much only hung out with my roommate and my boyfriend.
But, most of all, Cath’s relationship with her sister struck a real chord with me. My best friend in high school was like a sister to me, and during the course of our freshman year she also got into drinking and guys. Maybe not to the extent Wren did, but somehow we drifted even farther apart. And the way Rowell writes about losing that person, it was EXACTLY how I felt. How can a person who loved you so much just … stop calling? How can they love alcohol more than you? At what point will they realize that they are literally putting their life in danger? And what do you do when there’s nothing you can do to help them?
My one criticism of this book would be that Simon Snow seemed like kind of a dumb book. But then, when you’re writing about the equivalent of Harry Potter, how can anything measure up? That being said, I won’t be reading Carry On any time soon. I’m all done with vampires with feelings, thank you very much.