Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on September 10, 2013
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary, young adult
Format & Pages: e-book, 448
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In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Let me just get this out of my system: I LOVED this book! So much so, that I am still too busy fangirling over it to even form a cohesive sentence about my thoughts. (Ha! See what I did there?) Let me take a moment and collect myself… Okay. Let’s do this.
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t google.) Like, where does the line start? What food can you take? Where are you supposed to stand, then where are you supposed to sit? Where do you go when you’re done, why is everyone watching you? … Bah.”
Everything about this story was so relatable. I could identify with Cath on so many levels: being nervous about starting college and being on her own; social anxiety and not knowing how to be; not having the right words at the right time when frustration rears its head; being an introvert who prefers writing in her dorm room over partying; having a parent she worries about and takes care of; loving, reading, and writing fanfiction; and on it goes. The way Rowell structured this story was relatable as well. Instead of following your typical story arc with a dramatic climax and finale, Fangirl follows Cath through her first year of college and the various bumps in the road that is her life during that time.
“To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”
Reading Fangirl made me feel so nostalgic. I began to reminisce about my first year being on my own in college. Thinking back further, it made me remember writing fanfiction with friends in middle and high school about – GASP! let me date myself here – the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. I can only imagine how much stronger my reactions would have been if this had been published a decade previously.
“Cath felt like she was swimming in words.”
Even with all these similarities, I don’t think this story would have been as powerful for me in the hands of another writer. Rowell’s writing here is perfection. Witty and sharp, with snappy dialogue, she gives you just enough while leaving a bit to the imagination. There were so many wonderful complexities within both the plot and the characters. She somehow found just the right words to make this all come together in a way that made me felt like this story was written just for me.
“I choose you over everyone.”
If any of this sounds like something you might relate to, I highly encourage you to read Fangirl. Trust me on this one.