After reading Eleanor and Park (you can check out my review of it here), I knew I had to read every single one of Rainbow Rowell’s books. My next conquest: Fangirl.
Fangirl is a story about two twins, Cather and Wren, who move away to college and leave their particularly scatter-brained father as they start their journey in the big, bad world of college. Cather, the protagonist and overall beautifully written character, is denying these changes at once and does all she can to avoid the college experience. By this, I don’t mean simply avoiding frat parties or making minimal friends (although this happens as well), but this brand of avoidance is more like eating protein bars because she is too afraid to ask where the Dining Hall is type of thing. Wren, eccentric, daring, and ultimately careless, chooses to do what the girls have never experienced before: live apart from Cath.
This story, though, is more than a tale of a girl who learns to blossom in her college years and step out of her encumbering awkwardness. While Cath is undeniably reserved, she releases her inner thoughts and passions in the form of fanfiction. Cath writes Simon Snow (which is a story inside of a story that revolves around two boys, arch nemeses, in a world of danger and magic. Think Harry Potter, but with vampires) fanfiction and she is damn good at it. In the book, Rowell includes snippets of the actual Simon Snow books as well as portions of Cath’s fanfiction. Personally, I enjoyed Cath’s bits of writing more than the Simon Snow excerpts.
The school year begins and the only class Cath particularly looks forward to attending is her Advanced Fiction Writing course, which she placed into based on her skills. As she finds out how to be Cath-without-Wren she also learns what it means to be a writer of something other than fanfiction. The struggle Cath finds in writing something that doesn’t involve Simon and Baz (the stars of her wildly popular fanfic and the Simon Snow novels) is something I believe every young writer struggles with.
The story is filled with love, first experiences, and heartbreak (both of the familial and romantic variety). Rowell, once again, writes a story that is timeless. Cath’s words and emotions feel as though I were the one telling this familiar story and living Cath’s life. As everything and everyone around Cath changes, especially her partner in crime/twin sister/best friend Wren, she finds that she is more herself than she ever knew.
Fangirl exceeded all expectations. If you enjoyed Eleanor and Park, get ready to fall in love with Fangirl. At times that were not exceptionally sad, I was crying ugly tears simply because of the way I related to Cath and her emotions. Rowell creates characters that resonate and become a part of you. Through her tales of friend making, love embracing, and story writing, Rowell (through Cath) describes the teenage condition with legitimate honesty. Not too often do you find a story of a girl who writes fanfiction, and not too often do you find a story about a boy who embraces the different in a girl (yes, people, this is also a hopelessly beautiful love story).
I recommend Fangirl as highly as I recommend Eleanor and Park. This honest and heart-wrenching coming-of-age tale is one that is now a permanent favorite of mine.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: 10/10