I am going to try really hard not to fangirl over Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. But it’s going to be VERY difficult.
I loved this book. I loved it the way you love the way the sun is all warm and sleepy on a Sunday morning or how cozy your favorite blanket is on a cold winter night or how delicious a warm cup of tea is with just the right amount of milk and sugar. This was not so much reading as falling into a book, letting it catch you. It felt like home. This book is comfort food.
Fangirl explores the idea of a “fandom,” the ties of family, and what it means to grow up. In this world, Cather Avery, more commonly known as Cath, and her twin sister Wren are starting their first semester of college. Wren is, as Cath categorizes her in her mind, “the Cool One,” which in turn makes Cath the not cool one. For the first time in their lives, she and Wren won’t be constantly together, after Wren insisted they not share a room. With a sister who is distant and off having “adventures,” not at all involving writing Simon Snow fanfiction or being a general nerdy hermit, Cath is set adrift, trying to figure out how to navigate a temperamental roommate and the new cast of characters college has the tendency to thrust upon us. In this she must figure out how to hold onto what she loves and who she wants to be, including the world of Simon Snow.
Cath is fascinating because I found myself rooting for her, but also acknowledging that she was blatantly standing in her own way. I actually had a hard time settling into the book at first because I was so at odds with her introverted choices. I wanted to shake her and tell her to STOP DOING THAT. I wanted to tell her to go out to activities and make friends! But that was just the orientation leader in me. Cath’s tendency to be alone is part of who she is and is integral to the unfolding of the story. It’s the same quality that allows her to be so dedicated to her writing and studies as well as to her family and friends. She feels everything so intensely.
I identified very strongly with Cath. The things she said. The ways she feels about herself and herself compared to others. The way she feels about love and kisses. I’ve been there. I know those thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I had to put the book down because I couldn’t believe how close I felt to what Rowell was writing. This book is funny and heartfelt. I raced through it. I just could not put it down. It was one of those books that would always be in the back of my mind whenever I had to do something that didn’t involve poring over its pages.
The book beautifully intertwines the world of Cath and the story within a story of Simon Snow. Simon and Baz, either within Cath’s fanfiction or Gemma T. Leslie’s world, were delightful, snarky, sometimes silly, always wonderful. It made me very nostalgic for my own continual love affair with Harry Potter, not just the reading of it but the fandom that surrounded it: midnight releases, fanfiction, the sense of community. That is no accident. The Simon Snow phenomenon is a direct parallel to that Harry Potter fandom explosion or indeed any fandom that so completely captures the hearts and minds of its fans. I wanted to keep reading those Simon Snow snippets nearly as much as Cath’s own story. By the end I found myself wishing at the end that the Simon Snow series was real.
There is so much more I want to talk about, but I feel like I can’t go too deep into it without getting a little spoiler crazy. All I will say is that there is a pretty awesome love interest and their relationship is ADORABLE. It made me very teary-eyed and sappy feeling in the best way possible.
This is my first Rainbow Rowell book. It makes me quite eager to read more of her stuff. Considering the rate at which she’s been churning books out, I certainly have and will have plenty to absorb. If you like young adult and the idea of fandom and if you like shy, nerdy girls, you will probably like this book. I for one am kind of in love with it.
Until next time!