To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
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?
I am finally writing this review. Holy hell you guys, I read this quite a while ago and I honestly don’t know why it took me this long to get to this review especially because I truly loved this book. Rainbow Rowell is no stranger. If you been around any social media for even a little bit then you’ve probably already heard of her. So curiosity got the better of me, like usual, and I picked it up.
The best word I can think of to describe this book is: relatable. This actually wasn’t the first of Rainbow Rowell’s books I heard about. The one that I would always see anywhere was Eleanor & Park. But the one that really got my attention was Fangirl, mainly because of its title.
The book tells the coming–of–age story of two twins who grew up in the world of internet fandom. The main protagonist, Cath, is one of the most successful fan–fiction author on the ‘Simon Snow’ archive – which shares a lot of its elements with the Harry Potter series (and that was honestly a suuuuper plus for me, making the experience feel more homey). Having grown up without a mother, Cath grows up to be a very introverted girl, being overly attached to her twin sister who serves the role of both her best friend and only link to a social life. This however changes when both girls decide to move away from home for uni and decide not to share rooms. Now being separated from her only source of comfort, Cath must face the life of a freshman in uni, dealing with anxiety, a rude roommate and her roommate’s hyperactive ‘boyfriend’ who just won’t leave her alone.
Coming of age novels are always going around, but Rowell adds a new twist to it by making her characters so believable and real which provides a deeper connection for the readers. Cath was honestly so relatable. She is so strong but in a palpable way, a realistic way that makes her that much more approachable. The difficulties she goes through when going to college, the pressure to find herself, to be sociable in this completely new and strange environment and all the anxiety that comes with these changes. (Also there is the amazing fact that Cath is an extremely bookish girl who adores writing…love you girl) Rowell writes characters that are beautifully flawed and people that you could meet walking down the street, and that was the one thing that pulled me in from the very beginning.
Every interaction felt so real, carrying that underlying layer of awkwardness that we can all relate to. The plot also includes all of Cath’s family dynamics such as an absent mother and a father with bipolar disorder, as well as a turbulent relationship with her twin sister. All of it adds a certain serious element to an otherwise lighthearted story. It really gave me all the scenario needed to empathize with this beautifully built characters.
What I also loved to see in this story was how Rowell showed the change in Cath’s relationships. Like how hers and her sister relationship changed when they went to college, and how that initial phase of change can make you feel lost for a bit, but then as the story progresses we are able to see their relationship growing, evolving and adapting to accommodate the changes that we all face through life. This really got to me because of how my relationship with my sister grew through the years and how much closer and more connected we have become (love you lil girl).
It all explains the importance of not changing yourself but growing. People sometimes think that growing up means growing out of childish things, and often times it does mean leaving parts of us behind, however, there is always a way of balancing things, that’s what life is all about, and this book explores the journey perfectly.
Another factor that made me love this book even more is how fanfiction is approached. Not only does Rowell acknowledge fan fiction writers, she makes them human and explores why falling into fantasy worlds and living among their fictional characters is often a safe haven. While I have never written anything I am absolutely in love with so many fantasy worlds and characters that always make me feel like I am part of something. Like I am understood. That was more than enough to make me get super invested in this story.
I recommend this book to literally anyone. An amazing and super realistic coming of age story that will make you slow down for a bit and really think about some of your own experiences growing up. And even if you don’t relate to Cath you will still be able to empathize with her and the way she deals with the situations she has to face.