Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 10.10.49 PM.pngFrom the jacket:

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?

Fangirl is an honest, hilarious, and tender coming of age story that is as accessible and relatable as the Breakfast club is re-watchable. Rainbow Rowell has expertly captured the zeitgeist of the American young adult growing up in the twenty-tens. The decade of Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat & YouTube; the decade of likes, followers, online forums, and global internet communities. In Fangirl, she portrays, with razor sharp accuracy, the raw and vulnerable emotions felt when you find yourself out on your own for the very first time, completely out of your comfort zone, and navigating a grown up world that is largely uncharted territory. She does all this while managing to remain completely timeless as well.

I’m going into more detail after the jump. Read at your discretion.

This story was so special to me because I saw so much of my own college experience in the experiences of Cath, Wren, Reagan, and Levi. Like Cath, I started college still dating my high school boyfriend. A few months into freshman year, I met a girl who turned my world upside down, and made me question everything I knew about myself up to that point. It was a time of soul searching and gut wrenching confusion, but also of discovery, happiness, and joy. As painful as it was to break away from the only love I had ever known, away from the person I had considered my best friend for the past four years, I don’t regret a moment of it. The anxiety and angst and constant back and forth questioning were necessary and so worth it, because a few years later I married that girl and we’re still stupidly in love and have the four most adorable children in the world together.

Perhaps it is because of that experience that Fangirl resonated so completely with me. But I think there is more to it than that. Cath is nothing like your regular YA heroine. She’s nerdy, introverted, socially awkward, and spends more time in the world of Simon Snow than in her own reality. She doesn’t get caught up in the drama of college, and trying to immediately fit in with everyone around her. She’s untrusting to the point of rudeness throughout the book, and the people around her must work to gain her trust, and ultimately friendship. Her awkwardness, while frustrating at times, is so incredibly endearing.

Her upperclassmen roommate, Reagan, is one of my favorite characters in the story. She is fierce, bold, sarcastic, honest, and unapologetic about who she is. She’s always kicking open the door, rushing in and dropping everything on the floor before she’s on her way out again. The conversations she shares with Cath are some of my favorite in the story.

Do you really want me asking you stupid questions?

If they’re about food, water, air, or shelter – yes. Jesus, Cath, I’m your roommate.

 

I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.

I don’t want to be your friend. I like that we’re not friends.

Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.

And then we have Levi. I haven’t crushed this hard on a fictional guy since… I don’t even know. Since before I can even remember. He is open, genuine, friendly, caring; always going out of his way to talk to everyone around him. I found myself smiling from ear to ear like a complete idiot anytime I read the scenes between him and Cath. The buildup between them is slow and tender and not at all cheesy or overdone. I found myself reminiscing about finding love in college, and hoping that everyone was lucky enough to find someone so respectful and patient and caring.

Every relationship in the book is something to treasure. Levi’s relationship with Reagan; Cath’s relationship with her sister Wren, with their father, with Reagan, and Levi, even her English professor.  Every conversation was so organic, I felt like the same conversations could be happening in dorm rooms all over America. Hell, I remember having variations of so many of these conversations myself.  Rowell touches on a plethora of issues with open-mindedness and poise.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 8.58.19 PM.png

Final Thoughts: Fangirl was an absolute joy to read and I cherished it. I don’t reread many books, but this is one I know I will come back to time and time again; one I plan on having all of my children read as they get older. If you were on the fence about this one, I hope I’ve helped push you over. This book will make you smile so many times you will lose count. It will make you laugh, and cry, and think. I can’t wait to read more of Rowell’s work.

Rating: Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 10.58.06 PM

Favorite Characters: Cath, Levi, Reagan

Memorable Quotes:

It was about coming up with the perfect idea, the most elegant solution. Her dad didn’t really care what he was selling. Tampons or tractors or dog food or people. He just wanted to find the perfect puzzle-piece that would be beautiful and right.

Back when we needed her, she wouldn’t even return our phone calls. When we started our periods, we had to google the details. But now, after we’ve stopped missing her, after we’ve stopped crying for her- after we’ve got shit figured out-now she wants to get to know us? I don’t need a mother now, thanks. I’m good.

She lifted her chin up and forced her body to relax. I’m the Cool One, she told herself. Somebody give me some tequila because I’ll totally drink it. And there’s no way you’re going to find me later having a panic attack in your parent’s bathroom. Who wants to French-kiss?

 

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