Dammit, why does it have to be so good?! This is my third Rainbow Rowell novel in the past 2 months… I officially have a problem because I love her writing and characters! Fangirl did not disappoint!
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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, and 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?
The idea behind the twin’s names, their mother wasn’t expecting to have twins and only liked one name, Catherine. She ended up splitting the name, one twin called Cather, the other Wren. Genius! How does Rainbow Rowell come up with that? Starting the first chapter, I just fell in love with the name Cather, it suits her personality so well. As always, I try to imagine being friends with the characters. (Does anyone else do that?) It allows me to relate with the characters more and honestly just feel for them on a deeper level. Cath and I have a similar university experience: a roommate who we think hates us, the lack of exploration because of nerves, and just the overall loneliness. Ragean took her under her wing just like my friends. They dragged me along to the dining hall and even to go stuff with them. Now I can’t imagine my 3 years without them. Cath feels betrayed by her twin sister, Wren, who wants to be her own person away from Cath. So often sisters feel identified by one another. My sister and I were always together growing up; it was not until university hit that we really separated and grew individually. The author does a great job of bringing in real-life problems to her characters. I feel like there are so many people out there who are starting university and this will show them that they aren’t alone!
There are so many different love stories in this novel, each with their own lesson. Cath has a highschool boyfriend who she is comfortable with. Once they start school, he breaks up with her saying that what they shared wasn’t a relationship; they were just being. Love isn’t always comfortable; it’s scary, sometimes it sucks, and it’s confusing. Cath thinks that maybe she and Nick share something, but it is all superficial again, just friends in class and never anything more. The whole time being blind to Levi, the guy who has been swooning over her for the past 3 months. Cath is nervous, unsure of what to do, and honestly a little guarded with Levi. When she finally got out of her comfort zone, she was finally able to open up to Levi. She had realized that the feelings she had toward him were good, and their relationship grew with her! It was beautifully awkward.
Picking Up The Pieces:
Cath and Wren have a tricky home life. Growing up their mom left them, apparently, she wasn’t cut out to be a mom. They never really talked to her since. This left Cath, Wren, and their father. Their father is in advertising but struggles with mental health. During the semester Cath gets a call from his co-worker; he has been checked into a psych ward and needed to get back into a routine. Immediately Cath calls Levi to drive her to him, when trying to get Wren to come with her she refuses. Later in the novel, Cath gets a call regarding Wren, she was in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. Again, Cath drops everything to be there. Cath is always there for her family, doing what she can to take care of them. She is so genuine in wanting her family to be ok and never in trouble. This gets to a point where she wants to leave school to be there for her dad, luckily her dad refuses, which leaves Cath no choice but to continue her struggles with school. She loves to being in her comfort zone but this story really urges its characters to open up, be themselves, and explore the outside world!
The story doesn’t just follow Cather and her crazy first year at university, but also her love for fanfiction, specifically Simon and Baz. She is a popular fanfiction writer and the book has excerpts of fanfiction stories that have been posted on fanfict.com. It was amazing how these were imputed into the story so well. Every chapter ends with a small paragraph that is a story on its own. Cather also reads Levi some of her own fanfiction, really bringing a new story to the already existing story. The pressure of Cath’s writing causes her a lot of stress in the book but is also a source of stress relief. It is beautiful to see the passion that she has for the story she is creating and the characters in it.
What I Realized After The Fact:
After my most recent trip to the local bookstore, I have realized this story is a stand-alone. BUT the author wrote two other books that follow the story of Simon and Baz, the characters in the fanfiction that Cath writes! What a crazy and fun way to intertwine all of your writing! If I could have realized this before I would have read “Carry On” first, then “Fangirl” and now her new release “Wayward Son.” It would be like a full circle revelation. Now that I realize I am a huge Rainbow Rowell fan, I will be following her on Goodreads to stay updated with her new releases. I never used to be someone who would follow authors, but as I get older I am realizing what types of novels I like and writing styles.
I give his book a 5/5, I was sucked in from beginning to end. Often I will lose interest in the middle in books over 300 words; the overall size of the book just exhausts me. Not this one! I read it in 4 days because I just wanted to find out what was going to happen. There were so many plot twists and emotions in this book. I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves a nerdy, awkward, innocent, love story. It discusses difficult topics but that is life, a series of difficult topics.
Moral Of The Story: It’s ok to be weird, write fanfiction, and live a completely different life in your head! I know I do.