WARNING: This review is only MOSTLY spoiler free. Continue with caution.
Rainbow Rowell is a fiction author from Nebraska. Along with Fangirl, she’s written “Eleanor & Park”, “Attachments”, and “Landline”. She is currently writing a graphic novel with Faith Erin Hicks. She also won the 2013 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. Fangirl was released September 10th, 2013.
Fangirl is quite possibly the most relatable book I’ve ever read. It follows Cather (“Cath!”, she’ll correct you indignantly) on her journey from internet-famous homebody to campus-insignificant homebody. Cath and her twin sister, Wren, have spent their whole lives together. Cath writes Simon Snow fanfiction, thousands of fans hanging on her every word. Wren assists, reads, and critiques. Their mother’s voluntary and (hopefully) permanent absence left their father’s mental state in shambles, and they try their best to keep him afloat. They’re a team, a matching set, the only peas in a two-pea pod. Everything changes when they ship off to the land of higher education, and Wren decides to be assigned a roommate rather than rooming with her “built-in best friend.”
Cather’s new roommate, Reagan, is seemingly unfriendly and standoffish. She comes home, changes, and leaves. Along with her new roomie, Cath also inherits Levi, one of Reagan’s many “boyfriends” and the ultimate nice guy. The majority of his time not spent happily slaving away at Starbucks is spent in their dorm room, studying with Reagan and begging Cath to read him her fanfiction.
When Cath sets out to tackle her advanced writing class, she finds herself a very along freshman in a large room of upperclassmen. She’s befriended by a classmate, Nick, and they begin writing their own story together. Quite a bit of alone time and half of a story later, Cath finds herself somewhat smitten, but Levi still walks her home from every writing date.
While Cath is busy writing with Nick, reading with Levi, and missing Wren, Wren is busy having the time of her life with her new, less built-in, best friend. Tiptoeing along the line between carefree and dangerous is Wren’s new lifestyle. Partying and drinking and a grievous lack of attention to schoolwork can only be considered “having fun and settling in” for so long, and her time is almost up.
Can Wren reconcile her bond with her sister? Will her writing dates ever become real dates, or will they be stuck in library basement limbo forever? If you enjoy delving into a story where the characters are so very real that you can’t help but fall in love, Fangirl is absolutely the book for you. As a fangirl myself, Cath was easy to connect with and hard to let go of when the last page turned. Her experiences and issues are sure to make most readers feel much less alone in theirs. Despite some of her bad choices and self-seclusion, I think Cath is a great role model for anyone who feels like they just can’t connect.
I give this book a solid and very deserved 9.5, and I hope you do as well.